Layoffs. 10-hour work days. Increased expectations. Tight deadlines.
These factors and more have created the perfect storm when it comes to worker stress, fatigue and burnout. In fact, according to the December, 2010 Workforce Management article “The Yawning of a New Era,” over 80% of HR managers agree that employee fatigue is a larger problem now than in years past.
Many of the factors that contribute to burnout are, quite honestly, difficult to eliminate. With so many companies being forced to “do more with less,” workers are more frequently exposed to prolonged stressful situations, resulting in:
- mental, physical and emotional exhaustion
- indifference toward, or frustration with, their jobs
- increased mistakes on the job and workplace accidents
- higher turnover and increased absenteeism
- decreased productivity
- potential for workplace sabotage (i.e., thwarting co-workers’ efforts)
Fortunately, if you see these signs of chronic stress in your workplace, you can do something about it. Here are a few tactics for combatting burnout:
Require employees to take breaks. Although this may sound counterproductive, research has shown that short breaks actually increase overall productivity. Likewise, make sure that your staff isn’t working through lunch. While this tactic may produce short-term gains, it can backfire over the long haul.
Educate and empower your staff. Hold a training seminar that addresses the symptoms of burnout and outlines practical strategies for maintaining a healthier work/life balance – both inside and outside of the workplace. Helpful resources are available online.
Encourage teamwork. Working with a good group of team members who support one another goes a long way in reducing job stress. Help employees cultivate strong work relationships and encourage them to rely on each other for assistance.
Consider changes in job design. If certain jobs require heavy and/or repetitive workloads for long hours, brainstorm creative ways to ease the burden. Consider rotating assignments, sharing responsibilities or increasing break frequency.
- ease the demand on your direct employees;
- reduce the turnover and absenteeism chronic overwork causes;
- increase productivity by keeping employees working at peak levels;
- lower labor expenses by reducing or eliminating overtime costs;
- effectively meet tight deadlines and surges in demand without negatively impacting your staff.
Together, we can create a staffing plan to help you run leaner, meaner – and happier.