Keeping an employee effectively engaged and well utilized is a tricky balance. Underutilization can quickly reduce a company’s profits, while overutilization can wear out an employee and cause him or her to look for a new job. As employees work for a single employer for longer stretches of time, the likelihood that he or she will experience burnout increases.
A recent Gallup study found that 23 percent of employees surveyed reported feeling burned out at work very often or always.
Every manager should be on the lookout for signs of employee burnout to prevent high turnover rates and take action that to create a healthy work life balance. Team members may not voice their feelings of being burned out. As such, a manager needs to understand the signs and symptoms of burnout to act on them.
The following are five common signs of employee burnout to watch out for at your organization.
1. Decreased Productive Utilization Rates
Reaching a profitable utilization rate across a company takes finely detailed resource scheduling and the ability to match each resource to tasks that are right for their skills. However, resources need to be motivated and focused on the tasks at hand to effectively complete their everyday work in a timely manner. One of the first effects of burnout is slower work rates, which will cause affected employees to miss their utilization rate goals. If one or more employees begin to slip and steadily miss their deadlines or utilization rates by progressively wider margins without any work circumstances changing, it’s more than likely that they are feeling burned out and are in need of a change.
2. Increased Mistakes in Projects
Errors are bound to occur in any work environment even for employees that have adequate time to complete their work. Employee burnout has a significant effect on mistakes, causing employees to lose focus and become less committed to high quality work. If a specific employee is suddenly making more mistakes in his or her work, or is making more costly mistakes without there being a significant change in work conditions or project timelines, it may be a sign that he or she is burned out and likely no longer passionate about the job.
3. Unusual Disengagement with Work
Ideally, employees would remain engaged with their work and focused on daily goals. Of course, your team members are human beings with a variety of factors influencing their work. But when employees become disengaged to an unusual level or for an unusually long period of time, it may mean that they are becoming burned out. Do they interact less with their fellow employees or become less involved in meetings or projects than they typically have before? Disengagement is a natural byproduct of burnout, but disengaging with work doesn’t help employees recover from being burned out. Work to get these employees involved and passionate about their work again before they decide a change of employment is their best course of action.
4. Greater Sensitivity to Criticism
Everyone takes criticism of their work differently, but constructive, insightful criticism that is balanced with appropriate levels of recognition for good performance should be respectfully received by team members. However, burnout can cause individuals to become more sensitive to construcitve criticism of their work. This creates a strange connection between being less engaged with work and more defensive of performance simultaneously, with coaching often causing burned out employees to disengage even more. Getting your employees to reengage with work and begin caring about the quality of their projects once again is critical in revitalizing burned out resources in conjunction with helpful changes to schedules and workload.
5. Inappropriate Venting Regarding Work and Coworkers
Employees naturally look to one another for support when work becomes frustrating, but the line between friendly support and professionalism can blur from burnout, leading to venting in inappropriate manners and at the wrong times. A burned out resource needs support, but his or her frustrations may lead to other team members becoming burdened by frustrations and their own views regarding the company turning toward the negative. Human resources departments should provide team members with the opportunity to express their frustrations in productive, appropriate means, helping them alleviate some of the pressure they are feeling for improved outlooks.
Supporting the Future of Your Team Members and Your Business
Being aware of, and making fast effective actions to prevent, employee burnout within your company can have a positive effect on both employee morale and your overall profit margins. But there are many more critical steps regarding resource management that each company needs to take for the sake of their future success. Learn more in our insightful ebook, “The Step-by-Step Guide to Successful Resource Management.”