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Burnout in the Workplace: Recognizing (and Getting Ahead of) Employee Burnout

Management teams can effectively get ahead of the challenges associated with employee burnout when they know what to look for and what to do.

Gabriela Mauch

By Gabriela Mauch

A woman sitting at a desk, looking worried, about employee monitoring software, with her hand on her forehead.

Learning how to be an efficient and productive employee while juggling remote or hybrid work environments continues to be a growth area for many, managers included.

The pandemic forced many in a management role to revisit their approach to management. Managing remotely requires an entirely different approach with particular attention on learning how to recognize employees’ signs of burnout

According to a Gallup study, 28% of employees surveyed said they were burned out “very often” or “always” at work. The same study shared that employees who frequently experienced burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day, and 2.6x more likely to look for a different job.

The bottom line: Employee burnout and fatigue are detrimental to both your teams and your business. So how can managers learn to recognize employee burnout (and get ahead of it) when their teams are often in disparate locations? 

Here are three steps for managers to recognize and mitigate burnout in the workplace more effectively, regardless of where their teams are working from.

1. Get to Know Your Employees

It’s something almost every management training emphasizes: You can’t manage your employees well unless you know who they are. When people work alongside each other in the same building, they unintentionally pick up on various social cues that give insight into working preferences and even tidbits about personal life. 

But when everyone is working from home, managers need to be intentional in their efforts to learn about their employees. 

Taking the time to understand who your employees are as individuals can help managers pick up on cues that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. For example, we all know that workload ebbs and flows depending on a variety of factors, from business cycles to changes in staffing levels. But when the workload consistently seems to be "heavy," burnout can develop quickly and have a significant impact on both team morale and performance.

Without a deeper understanding of employees’ work preferences and experience, a manager may overlook the early signs of burnout, missing the chance to step in to mitigate the effects. 

2.  Increase Transparency and Communication

Part of really getting to know an employee is understanding their working style. One of the most effective ways to understand what this looks like is to have Ways of Working discussions. Creating a foundation for the entire team to work more effectively together ensures everyone respects the time people need to work on their own. 

An added bonus: When managers conduct ways of working discussions with their teams, employees feel respected and appreciated knowing they have management support. This goes a long way when it comes to inspiring employee productivity. It also enables managers to gain insight into workloads, and when those workloads start looking too heavy for too long.

This surfaces the importance of clear and transparent communication within teams, and even among managers within an organization, to understand workloads. In some situations, heavy workloads over an extended period could be a precursor to burnout. And this type of employee burnout could point to a broader issue within an organization. 

But by having regular management meetings to discuss team performance and burnout potential, it can provide insights into recognizing sources of friction, resource gaps, and process improvements. Effectively mitigating these can help boost team productivity and satisfaction.  

3. Elevate Awareness of Burnout Potential

To further empower managers to recognize the early signs of burnout in the workplace — and elevate the issue to the broader management team to get ahead of the potential ramifications — organizations are increasingly turning to the use of workforce analytics. Managers who are given the tools to measure productive time, team working hours, burnout risk, break frequency and focus habits are better able to understand the broader picture in the context of burnout. This also empowers managers to make impactful changes across their team in timely and relevant ways.

In fact, using a workforce analytics solution that collects and analyzes activity data can help managers more efficiently tap into robust burnout insights. When this is combined with complementing data, like employee sentiment or objectives and key results (OKRs), managers can more efficiently understand the root causes of burnout. This allows them to find a more efficient and effective solution to implement.

Key Takeaways

Employees and managers, alike, are working through a significant learning curve as a result of new ways of working. But just because teams may be remote doesn’t mean they can’t be productive and efficient. Empowering managers to truly know and understand their employees, combined with the power of workforce analytics, creates an entirely new team dynamic — one that is rooted in support and transparency. 

After all, burnout is not just a challenge for individual performance; it impacts business performance, as well. Recognizing early signs of burnout in the workplace is essential to the health of the business overall.

About ActivTrak

ActivTrak helps companies unlock productivity potential. Our award-winning workforce analytics and productivity management software provides expert insights that empower people, optimize processes, and maximize technology. Additionally, with data sourced from more than 9,500 customers and over 450,000 users, ActivTrak’s Workforce Productivity Lab is a global center for ground-breaking research and expertise that helps companies embrace and embody the future of work. 

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