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It’s normal to have occasional stressful days at work. In fact, a little stress now and then can actually be beneficial. Experts note that low-level stressors stimulate the production of brain chemicals called neurotrophins, which temporarily boost your memory, make you more resilient, and motivate you toward success.

It’s when stress becomes a normal part of a person’s daily routine that things can go south … because, over time, this level of stress leads to full-out burnout.  If employees burn out, in addition to being miserable most of the time, they become disengaged, their performance levels plummet, and there’s a domino effect as others also begin to feel the pain.

What Causes Burnout?

If you’re concerned that one or more of your employees may be suffering from burnout, you’re not alone. In a recent survey of employees across several companies and industries, 57 percent of respondents answered “yes” when asked, “Are you currently suffering from job burnout?”

  • In another study, the top three factors contributing to employee burnout were identified as unfair compensation (cited by 41 percent of respondents), and unreasonable workloads and too much overtime (tied at 32 percent).

The good news is: You don’t have to be part of these discouraging statistics. Many of those burnout-inducing factors could have been avoided if companies had taken an honest, proactive stance before things got out of hand.

The Consequences of Burnout

Burnout can cost your company in many ways. In terms of healthcare spending alone, workplace stress adds up to $125 billion to $190 billion annually and – even more sobering – contributes to approximately 120,000 deaths per year.

  • In a survey of HR leaders by Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and cloud solutions, 95 percent of respondents agreed that burnout was sabotaging employee retention at their companies.
  • Researcher James Campbell, Ph.D., notes that “There are huge, if sometimes hard to calculate, financial costs associated with poor mental health at work. The U.S. Air Force team at one logistics depot of 13,000 employees estimated that there were over $33 million in costs avoided because a commanding general had hired a psychologist” to help with stress, burnout and related issues.

So What Can You Do?

Protecting your employees from burnout starts with finding its root cause – since every company is different. From there, you should:

  • Create an environment where employees feel listened to, empowered and appreciated. Promote collaboration, support learning and development, and get rid of any managers who exude arrogance, narcissism or toxicity. Start or improve your employee recognition program. The same holds true for communication: do whatever it takes to maintain transparency and an open-door policy.
  • Offer flexibility. As much as possible, let employees choose their own hours, work remotely, and take time off. Burnout results from working for too long and/or with too much effort and energy expenditure.
  • Provide access to counseling resources, whether in person or online. Companies that offer a variety of options for mental, as well as physical, healthcare are making a wise investment in their workforce. Their ROI will be lower overall medical costs, higher retention, and happier, more loyal and productive employees.

The workforce development experts at TRC Professional Solutions have additional resources and expertise when it comes to fighting burnout and keeping your employees happy, healthy, engaged and productive. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.


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