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How to Avoid Employee Burnout in Today’s Job Market

Employee burnout is a serious global issue—in fact, the World Health Organization declared it an occupational phenomenon in 2019. And with an extremely tight labor market where open positions can remain unfilled for months while your existing employees take on that load, it’s an even more pressing issue. HR professionals must help their organizations determine how to avoid employee burnout: here are five steps to consider taking.

1. Recognize What’s Behind Burnout 

Burnout due to the pandemic hasn’t gone away, and the hot hiring market and near-record low unemployment rate have left many companies stretched thin for workers. The employees left behind are often taking on the workload of one or more roles for the same amount of pay. This is a leading cause of burnout.

Workplace factors matter just as much as workload. Employees who feel they’re treated unfairly, aren’t given autonomy, and who don’t have flexibility in their work are just as susceptible to burnout as those with heavy workloads or time pressure.

Creating a workplace where employees are treated with respect, autonomy, and trust can help avoid burnout—and this is where HR plays a critical role.

2. Find Flexible Hiring Solutions

The gaps in talent, like roles that stay open for months without a hire, can significantly add to the stress levels of employees who remain at your organization. Speeding up hiring in a high-volume hiring process is one option, but it might not work for all companies and roles.

HR can explore flexible options like bringing in contractors and freelancers, adding interns, or determining how to flex employees across roles for short-term assignments to help relieve heavy workloads and avoid employee burnout.

3. Encourage Managers to Address Root Causes

The symptoms of burnout are serious—they can lead to employees being less efficient, turning in poor quality work, and behaving irritably with their colleagues.

Managers are the best front-line defense against burnout because many of the root causes of it are within their control. In fact, unclear communication from managers and lack of manager support are two of the biggest causes of burnout according to research from Gallup.

HR should empower and educate managers to take action on things like prioritizing work duties for overwhelmed employees, creating reasonable expectations for deadlines and workloads, and encouraging them to recognize employees who go above and beyond for their teams.

4. Work to Reduce Attrition

Employees who are overwhelmed and burnt out are at high risk for turnover—they’re 2.6 times more likely to be actively searching for a new job than the rest of the workforce. In today’s hot labor market, they’re likely to be successful soon in that search.

HR teams should develop a comprehensive plan to reduce the causes of attrition at an organizational level where possible. This could mean revisiting benefits and compensation to ensure they’re competitive, working to build a better workplace culture for everyone, or strengthening career development programs.

5. Focus on Hiring People Who Will Stay and Thrive

Attracting and hiring the right candidates has a surprisingly large role to play in avoiding employee burnout. Finding candidates who will stay at your company instead of turning over because they’re not the right fit can reduce workloads and stress. Employees who are a great fit for your organization tend to be highly engaged, leading to healthier and more productive workplace culture.


This post was originally published by Cangrade.

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