Common Reasons and Solutions for Employee Burnout

Let’s face it, making a living is a grind. It’s challenging to put forth our best effort at work day-after-day, year-after-year. Even people who love their jobs have days when it’s a struggle to find that motivational spark.

Those days are to be expected but it’s a major problem when an employee permanently becomes disengaged. When they hit a wall and start to feel like they’ve run the course in their current job. When they quite simply get burned out.

Employee burnout is a widespread issue in our society that has consequences for both the people who experience it and their employers. According to SHRM, 95 percent of HR leaders blame burnout for their organization’s inability to retain top talent. Additionally, a Harvard Business School study found that workplace stress is responsible for 8 percent of national healthcare spending and 120,000 annual deaths.

Stress is obviously the main culprit for burnout. However, there are other less-apparent contributors that can’t be resolved with a beach vacation or trimmed down workload. Let’s explore what those factors are and how they can be avoided.

Halted career development

It’s human nature to want to go grow and become a better person. Everyone has long-term career goals they hope their current job will set them up to achieve.

While you as the employer see your team members’ work as crucial to your operations, they see it as a way to get much-needed professional experience. Burnout becomes possible once someone feels their career growth is stunted or they’re overdue to take the next step.

Solution: Ask employees to share their career goals during performance reviews and help them create a personal development plan. Your organization should also consider providing management training, continuing education benefits, and mentorship so employees see you as an ally in their career development.

Losing sight of the big picture

Burnout is often a symptom of employees not seeing the impact their work makes. Junior employees especially can feel like everything they do is menial and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

However, your organization hired them because there was a need for their skillset. The occasional reminder that they’re valued and make a difference goes a long way in keeping them engaged.

Solution: Recognition for a job well done is of course important. Additionally, all-hands meetings or dashboards highlighting progress toward organizational objectives help remind employees their work is impactful.

Poor collaboration

Organizations are not only successful when different employees and teams come together to work toward common goals. People also enjoy their work more when joint efforts run smoothly.

If you’ve ever had a job where people didn’t work well together, you know what that can do to morale. An employee with the best intentions will easily get burned out if their job is made more difficult than it needs to be by someone else.

Solution: 360-degree feedback is an excellent method for learning how an employee collaborates with colleagues across the organization. The simple act of implementing 360-degree feedback encourages employees to be a team player since they know multiple people will have a voice in their performance review.

Doing more than the next person

Organizations also succeed when individual employees carry their weight. Every staff member has their own role-specific responsibilities they need to handle so everything runs optimally.

Like poor collaborate, an employee gets frustrated when they see they’re doing more than someone else. Sure, it’s irritating when the slacker gets more recognition or is higher on the org chart.  But an employee is really prone to burnout when they have to work harder than necessary to cover for a coworker.

Solution: Have managers check in with employees frequently to ensure their workload is reasonable. Your organization should also encourage managers to host team meetings where everyone recaps their priorities.

Lack of clarity

Again, humans are naturally goal-oriented and find purpose in working toward achieving something each day. Your employees want to know what they’re supposed to be doing today, what it should result in down the road, and how they’re doing along the way.

People get disenchanted with their job when they feel like they’re coming to work and spinning their wheels. They can also get anxious about their performance if they’re not sure what they’re supposed to be doing.

Solution: Every employee should have their objectives and responsibilities made clear to them when they’re hired. They should regularly meet with their manager to discuss their priorities and the progress made toward long-term goals.

Not having a voice

Most people don’t like feeling like a worker bee. Even if someone understands they’re a contributing employee, they still want their ideas to be heard.

People slowly get burned out when they feel they’re carrying out a plan they had no say in. Especially, if they know through hands-on experience that things can be done better.

Solution: Encourage managers to invite their entire team to big picture planning sessions. From an organizational perspective, conduct a staff-wide survey to learn how every employee is feeling.

Not given sufficient resources

We’ve all heard the saying, “work smarter, not harder.” In today’s day and age, it seems like there is software or an app that makes any task much easier.

People get frustrated when their employer won’t provide them with the tools of their trade. Like we said at the start of this article, work is a grind and knowing a job is not as easy as it could be will certainly lead to burnout.

Solution: Provide employees with the equipment and software needed to do their job. In most cases, those costs will be paid for through enhanced productivity.

Avoid the causes and consequences of burnout

Every job has its challenges. Some are simply the reality of the work but others are unnecessary and frustrate employees to no end. Do what you can to prevent these common causes of burnout and you’ll have a happy, engaged, and productive staff.