6 Top Tips on How to Avoid Staff Burnout at Work

18th April 2016

More than half of full-time workers in the UK suffer from “burnout”, according to one recent survey. This means they feel stressed and tired. Ongoing strain not only has personal consequences for the individual, including making them more likely to suffer from illness, but can also affect productivity and morale within their department. It is therefore important that HR staff keep an eye open for signs of burnout, and using HR attendance software can help to flag up the danger signs.

In the survey, by Virgin Group, 51% of employees said they felt overworked, with the problem being worst among those in the 25-34 age group. Almost one in four people who took part also said their job was having a negative effect on their life outside the workplace.

The main causes of burnout can include being overstretched at work, often as a result of short staffing. Employees may feel their workload is unrealistic and sliding out of control. Another reason for stress is where a job is not a good fit for the employee’s abilities. Signs that an individual is not coping can include taking time off sick, a fall-off in productivity or performance, and being cynical and sarcastic at work.

Here are some suggestions for managers and HR professionals about ways to avoid staff becoming burnt out:

  1. Communication: A lot of problems can be avoided by regularly meeting up with staff and getting their feedback. If an individual seems to be unhappy and is behaving out of character, or is starting to take a lot of time off sick, it is advisable to meet up with them to try to resolve any problems before they escalate.
  2. Keep an Eye on Workloads: Meet up with staff regularly to hear their views over any problems with overwork and be prepared to make changes where necessary. Avoiding overwork will not only help to prevent unnecessary strain on staff but also help to raise quality within your organisation, by ensuring that work is not rushed and skimped as a result.
  3. Review Systems and Equipment: Make sure equipment is working as it should and not creating extra problems through inefficiency. For instance, if you have outdated IT systems or equipment which keeps breaking down, it can make it hard for staff to get all their work done to schedule. Working “smart” by making full use of technology can help to streamline operational performance and take the strain off individuals.
  4. Offer Training: Often a reason for burnout and stress is that people are having to take on tasks they do not feel equipped for. Ensuring they can receive training to strengthen their knowledge in those areas can help them and also gain increase quality of performance.
  5. Watch Out for Conflicts: A lot of work stress is caused by conflicts between individuals. This can sometimes be caused by bullying, where disciplinary action may be needed. It is important to have clear lines of communication so that any such problem can be investigated. However, conflicts can also be the result of different ways of working and clashing objectives, especially if there is no clear line of command in organising a particular project. In an instance like this, a manager may need to step in and reprioritise work so that everyone concerned is clear about what they need to be doing.
  6. Promote Employee Wellbeing: This is a good way of preventing stress before it starts. Increasingly, it is being realised that it is a good idea to have a culture of promoting health throughout an organisation, and encourage staff to ask for help at an early stage if needed. Introducing helplines and offering counselling can all be part of creating a healthy workplace, as well as ensuring that staff take regular breaks and encouraging them to go outdoors at lunchtime. Discounted gym memberships and healthy food choices can also contribute to this.

Using HR attendance software can help to alert your HR team to any problems which need to be addressed, such as staff frequently being off ill for short periods. For instance, Mondays or Fridays may often be taken off to lengthen the weekend. Absence interviews can offer a chance to talk about any underlying problems and issues which may be the real reason for the employee taking time off. IRIS FMP Teamspirit’s Time & Attendance module includes absence recording software, which allows you to monitor reasons for absence. It also enables recording of return to work interviews.

For more information on how to deal with issues affecting staff morale and absence, speak to our friendly team or download one of our ebooks.