Engagement is a fickle thing, but new research shows that levels of employee burnout have risen to their highest levels since January.
According to CEB’s Global Talent Monitor survey, discretionary effort – an employee’s willingness to go above and beyond – has fallen by 2.6 per cent since the start of the year. Work-life balance is vital for preventing employee burnout, and low batteries mean increased levels of stress and dissatisfaction with work.
The report reveals that Australia remains one of the only regions in the world where work-life balance is rated as the most important employee attribute, above compensation and future career opportunities. This means burnout can be a deal breaker.
Burnout can happen at any time, but the end of the year is an especially risky time for staff turnover. People are evaluating the past year and forming plans for the future. Sometimes, depending on how the year went at work, those plans include looking for a new job.
Employers should be extra vigilant in an attempt to spot signs of burnout among employees. Facilitating good work-life balance is essential to productivity and lifting discretionary effort among staff, not just for the immediate future, but for long-term engagement. If engagement isn’t addressed, employees could walk out the door to more attractive job opportunities, as the research reveals employee intent to stay is also on the decline.
Intent to stay – an employee’s desire to stay with an organisation – has fallen by 2.5 per cent in the last quarter. This, fueled by rising dissatisfaction of manager quality, compensation and senior leadership, is a recipe for retention disaster.
Causes of burnout range from work-related factors such as job demands and lack of appropriate support or resources, to personal and contextual factors such as hardiness and feelings of uselessness. Symptoms usually manifest in behavioural changes, like when an employee begins isolating themselves, procrastinating, coming in late/leaving early or taking ‘sick’ days, or even something as harmful as using drugs or alcohol to cope with work-related stress. Little needs to be said about the correlations between workplace stress and health issues, but burnout can also contribute to increased risk of stroke, depression and even cancer.
There are ways to spot employees at risk of burnout. Employers should look for signs of exhaustion, inefficacy and cynicism. Where these three factors intersect, there will be a stressed employee who has given up trying.
Not only is burnout harmful for the business, it’s detrimental to an employee’s overall health and wellbeing. HR plays a vital role in nipping turnover, stress and burnout in the bud. How can management prevent burnout?
CEB’s survey found that efforts focused on engagement had the most impact on decreasing feelings of burnout among employees, including:
- Being supportive of employees’ work-life balance needs;
- Providing opportunities for staff to complete personal tasks and responsibilities, and being flexible to accommodate things like family obligations;
- Connecting employees with co-workers to allow collaboration; and
- Clearly communicating with employees about performance and expectations, and ending the micromanagement in favour of some level of autonomy.
When company leaders make an effort to prevent end-of-year employee burnout, they can keep “Find a new job” off their employees’ list of 2016 New Year Resolutions.