How to Battle the Burnout That is Contributing to the Great Resignation
While many factors contribute to employees leaving their jobs, burnout is a key one in the current environment. To help combat staff burnout, one expert suggests organizations acknowledge the problem, focus on wellness and vacations, and improve work-life balance.
Over the past two years, many employees continued to work long hours to help keep their organization afloat through the ups and downs of the pandemic. This has inevitably led to burnout, with many workers quitting as part of the Great Resignation.
To help your employees battle burnout, it’s important to focus on a few key areas, said James Bailey, professor of management at George Washington University. First, employers should acknowledge that burnout is happening.
“Organizations need to say, ‘Everybody, we know that this is going on, that some of you are burnt out,’” Bailey said. “And then, show that at the top of the organization, you care and you understand.”
By acknowledging the problem, organizations make space for solutions. Bailey said solutions for burnout typically include things like meditation and taking a break to recharge—such as a vacation. However, during 2020 and 2021, workers took fewer vacation days.
However, if organizations give employees the opportunity to enact solutions, they are more likely to take self-care actions.
“Provide resources for employees,” Bailey said. “It could be something as simple as an app, but also it could be your employee assistance program building in elements for a stress-related or burnout-related hotline. Or buy everyone in the organization a yearlong subscription to Headspace.”
Also, encourage staff to take real vacations, where they truly disconnect from the rigors of work.
“We’re at the beach in Jamaica, and we should be relaxing, but what are we doing?” Bailey said. “We are checking our phones, answering emails. We’re returning calls. That is exactly what we should not be doing when we’re on vacation.”
Instead, he said tell staff no email, no phone calls, and no work during their time off. If they have a work mobile phone, make them leave it at the office. Don’t require them to do makeup work when they return—assign staff to cover their duties, so it’s a true vacation.
“I think vacations aren’t taken seriously in some organizations,” Bailey said. “When you are on vacation, you should be on vacation the whole time. That’s one of the ways you deal with burnout is to reset and move away.”
Work-Life Balance Matters
Finally, helping employees achieve proper work-life balance can reduce burnout and help retain staff. This lack of work-life balance is evident when one looks the reality of the Great Resignation versus the myth that’s sprung up around it, according to Bailey.
“One myth associated with the Great Resignation is that people are using this as an opportunity to career shift,” he said. “For example, they are going from a career in accounting to one working in nonprofits in a non-accounting function, so they feel like they’re giving back more to the world. Or people are becoming carpenters or artists. That is not happening.”
What is happening, he says, is people are looking for the same type of job, and finding it with more flexibility, better work-life balance, and, sometimes, more pay.
“One place is saying, ‘We are all going back full-time starting May 31’ or whatever the date might be, and the other one has said, ‘Nope, we’ve already decided we’re going to stay on two days a week in the office and three days at home.’ It’s a really big lifestyle drop.”
Ultimately, organizations must figure out how to create that work-life balance in a way that employees find desirable. “That’s going to include working from home,” Bailey said. “That’s going to include better bonuses, more vacation time, more discretion over their work, and if possible, more pay.”
What has your organization done to reduce employee burnout? Share in the comments.
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