How Employers Handle Stress and Burnout in the Workplace

April 19, 2023


Burnout refers to the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion employees feel due to prolonged stress in their workplace. It is a common problem that affects about 70% of employees in the workplace. Burnout can lead to reduced job satisfaction and productivity and a lack of engagement with work-related activities.

There are many strategies that employers and employees can use to address burnout. However, one of the most common but wrong strategies employers use to deal with burnout is increasing compensation. Research shows that more money doesn't eliminate burnout. In fact, there's only a 6% difference in burnout levels between employees making $100k and those making $30k.

Instead, employers should focus on providing resources that help employees manage their stress. If you suspect your employees are feeling burned out, here are some strategies to help them manage their stress.

Signs Of Employee Stress And Burnout

First, it's important to note that burnout is not the same as workplace stress. Burnout is caused by prolonged and excessive stress but manifests through emptiness and a lack of hope for positive change.

In contrast, employees experiencing workplace stress can still meet physical and mental demands and feel that they have everything under control.

Here are some symptoms of employee stress and burnout to look out for:

Physical Signs And Symptoms

• Always feeling tired and drained
• Changes in sleeping and eating habits
• Lowered immunity
• Frequent headaches
• Muscle aches

Emotional Signs And Symptoms

• Feeling helpless or defeated
• Loss of motivation
• A negative outlook
• Increased self-doubt and sense of failure
• Decreased satisfaction

Behavioral Signs

• Isolating oneself
• Skipping work
• Coming in late
• Increased emotional reactions
• Procrastination
• Use of drugs to cope

Burnout within a team can also come with decreased performance, increased reports of stress, more arguments, and increased complaints and grievances.

How To Manage Employee Stress And Burnout

If you suspect that an employee is suffering workplace stress or burnout, the following strategies are the best ways to help employees manage their stress:

Identifying The Cause Of Stress

The first step towards successful stress management is to identify the cause of it.

Ask your employee what is causing the most stress in their job, and listen to their answers.

If they’re feeling overwhelmed by their workload, lighten their load where and when you can.

Aside from workload, other common causes of stress include:
• Conflicting or ambiguous goals
• Strict rules and regulations
• Ineffective communication
• Job dissatisfaction
• Lack of recognition or respect
• Unrealistic deadlines
• Work/life balance issues

Once you have identified the cause of your employee’s stress, you can focus on finding a solution.

Taking Breaks And Vacations

Make sure your employees take regular breaks while at work. A break doesn't have to be extended. It can be as short as 10-15 minutes. Taking regular breaks will help your team reset and refocus on their work.

Vacations are also an essential part of stress management. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 94% of employees have much more energy after taking a vacation.

When going on vacation or taking time off, it’s important for employees to put boundaries in place regarding their availability during their time away. They should try to completely unplug and disconnect from work so that they can have a proper break and come back feeling refreshed and motivated.

Encouraging Workplace Wellness

Employees perform better and are less stressed when they feel the employer values them. One of the best ways for human resource departments to show they care, help employees manage stress, and reduce burnout is to provide resources that promote workplace wellness.

Some practices that can help promote wellness include:

• Offering free stress management courses
• Hosting seminars and workshops about work-life balance
• Providing access to health and wellness programs

Professional online therapy, receiving daily texts promoting mental health, or even registering an emotional support animal can all be extremely helpful in helping employees with their workplace wellness.

Ensuring employees have access to healthy snacks at work can also help reduce stress and improve employee well-being. A recent study shows that 83% of employees say that having access to healthy snacks is a huge perk.

Staying Organized

Another way of managing workplace stress is by staying organized. A messy workplace increases anxiety and last-minute scrambling in various situations.

Clutter on one’s desk can make them feel suffocated and overwhelmed. This can result in reduced morale and productivity.

Encourage your employees to keep their workspaces organized so that they can stay on top of their daily tasks better. This way, they can manage their stress levels better and feel more in control of what’s happening around them.

Here are some tips to help employees stay organized:
• Create a clear action plan
• Get rid of papers that are not being used
• Set daily goals and focus on what's important
• Manage time well and always start the day with energy-intensive tasks
• Use calendars and planners to avoid conflicting schedules

Setting Realistic Goals

Your brain is naturally conditioned to keep you safe, and one of the ways it does that is by resisting change. A goal, no matter how big or small, represents change and requires you to consciously engage in problem-solving to achieve that goal.

Very big or unrealistic goals might cause anxiety, activating the fight or flight response and leading to mental and physical stress.

Setting realistic goals is the key to managing workplace stress. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Break down a big goal into smaller ones that are more achievable and manageable. This way, employees will have more frequent successes, which will give them a sense of accomplishment and help motivate them to keep going.

Offering Great Benefits

Lastly, employers can boost employee morale and reduce stress by providing comprehensive employee benefits.

Benefits make employees feel valued and appreciated and can lead to greater productivity and commitment in the workplace. They can also help reduce stress from financial strain and encourage healthy habits and lifestyles.

Research shows that 78% of employees are more likely to stay with a company if they offer them attractive benefits packages.

Some top benefits that make a difference are:
• Health insurance and wellness packages
• Workers' compensation
• Disability insurance
• Medical and family leave benefits
• Retirement savings plans
• Tuition reimbursement
• Flexible work schedules
• Telecommuting
• Free or discounted gym memberships and exercise classes
• On-site childcare services

Key Takeaways

Stress and burnout can have a significant negative impact on employee performance, morale, and productivity if left unchecked. Employers should create an environment encouraging employees to manage stress effectively and promote workplace wellness.

Strategies such as encouraging vacations, keeping everything organized, setting realistic goals, and providing great benefits packages will help you manage employee stress and prevent burnout in the workplace.

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