6 Leading Causes of Workplace Burnout and How to Mitigate It

A recent Gartner study showed that the pace of employee turnover is forecast to be 50–75% higher than companies experienced prior to the pandemic. With attrition on the rise, employees are citing burnout and work-related stress as the primary drivers for quitting. As employee health shifts to the forefront of conversations around retention, employers are struggling to keep their teams feeling supported and motivated, while focusing on mitigating attrition. 

Why are more and more employees losing steam at work?

Here are some of the leading causes of burnout today.

1. Workload Imbalance

It’s easy for employees to get overwhelmed. There’s always a new project, a new process, or a new technology; and a slew of administrative tasks that go along with any work assignment, which typically go unnoticed. Meetings are a big time drain too, often consuming hours and hours of the workday and disrupting workflow. Taking stock of mandatory meetings and invite lists can help ensure that people are not unnecessarily attending meetings and can instead focus on their core tasks. More generally, staying on top of workloads and deadlines, and reallocating tasks when it makes sense can ease some of the pressure on your team members. 

Oftentimes, your best employees are the employees who are most bombarded and also the ones who are least likely to say anything about feeling overwhelmed, leading them to the point of burnout and ultimately moving on to a different role. 

In a remote or hybrid environment it’s even harder to gauge employee workload. Without visibility into daily activity, employers often run the risk of assigning the next hot project to a seasoned team member who is already bogged down and ignore another eager one excited to get the exposure and experience.

2. Staffing Inefficiencies

Workload imbalance is directly tied to staffing, which is another area that can severely impact employee health and contribute to burnout. If your team is not staffed in a way to handle a growing workload or even a lighter load, workers will suffer. While you don’t want any team members struggling to carry their load, you also don’t want them twiddling their thumbs. Underutilization is just as detrimental as overutilization. 

It’s critical for organizations to understand employee roles and responsibilities, identifying when new hires could help ease the burden or when a restructure may be in order.

3. Training Challenges

Sometimes, the underlying issue may be that staff members need more training or coaching in order to succeed. Perhaps they need more 1 on 1 time learning about a new piece of software or better direction managing a particular type of customer. Without that support, employees will feel frustrated that they can’t get their work done efficiently or on time, potentially leading to burnout.  

A lot of workers experience high stress levels if they are not given the right tools to do their job but that stress only grows if training isn’t part of the rollout. Menial tasks can start to take longer and feel more draining and the bigger ones just feel impossible.

4. Lack of Employee Recognition

Ignoring the value of employee recognition is another key contributor to workplace burnout. Without ongoing, daily feedback, employees remain skeptical about whether what they’re doing really makes a difference in the eyes of leadership and if they’re likely to advance into bigger roles. Sometimes, acknowledging even small wins along the way can make all the difference, especially to younger employees. 

Leaders can, and should, be intentional and proactive in the way they acknowledge employee contributions in real time to motivate and demonstrate appreciation of a job well done.

5. Missing Sense of Belonging

In much the same way, feeling like you belong within the organization also plays a role in your overall health at work. Team members always want to feel connected - with each other, with their managers, and with the work they’re doing. Social capital is defined as a set of shared values that ensure people work effectively together as part of a group to achieve common goals. That “psychological safety” is critical for employee wellbeing. Without it, meaningful relationships, trust, productivity, and loyalty are nearly impossible. 

6. Micromanagement

And finally, micromanaging employees has also been shown to lead to burnout and ultimately attrition.  If employees feel like they’re being checked up on constantly or being asked for updates too frequently, they’ll feel strangled. It’s completely counterproductive and creates distrust, frustration, and stress. In times of crisis, managers have been known to turn to micromanaging but experts say it can be detrimental. 

Burnout can occur for any number of reasons and it’s important that employers are mindful about how to spot it. Employee replacement costs continue to rise. Today, businesses spend approximately 6 to 9 months of an employee's salary to replace him or her. For an employee making $60,000 per year, that’s $30,000 - $45,000 in recruiting and training.  At a $100,000 annual salary you’re looking at between $50,000 and $75,000 to hire someone new. And even then, there’s no guarantees that person will succeed or stick around. 

Organizations that can stop undue work stress before it results in burnout and attrition will not only reap the financial benefits but also enjoy a healthier and more loyal employee base.

The Role of Employee Productivity Monitoring in Mitigating Burnout

Employee productivity monitoring solution, Prodoscore, makes it possible for leaders to identify the signs of burnout before it’s too late. By providing visibility into how workers engage with the various business applications each day, Prodoscore keeps managers informed. The data dives into the root of employee behavior by identifying capacity limitations and capturing shifts in behavior week over week. These insights are captured daily and provide detail around activities such as work load, internal and external interaction and response time, and comfort level with various business applications. That way, managers know when an employee has too much on their plate, is struggling to use tools, or isn’t engaged with the team or business at all. 

By visualizing workflows of individuals, teams, and departments, managers can identify why an employee may be missing deadlines. The data eliminates that nagging feeling to check in multiple times throughout the day or ask unnecessarily for status updates.  Visualization is powerful as it indicates the level of support, or lack thereof, that employees are receiving from their managers and their fellow colleagues.  

Prodoscore’s scoring philosophy identifies employees whose score may consistently run higher than the normal benchmark for that particular role and encourages managerial intervention. Although high achievers may be a company’s top producers and their best practices are valuable, management needs to keep a watchful eye on this group for signs of burnout, and potentially attrition. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how productivity data can help spot and prevent burnout. 

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