Posted on November 27, 2020

A high level of productivity is the goal of most companies. However, there are times when work can make you sick, literally. This happens when you obsess over productivity at the expense of the mental and physical health of your employees. This phenomenon is often referred to as Employee Burnout.

A study has shown that over 1,000 US workers found that many employees who are highly engaged in their work are also exhausted and ready to leave their organization at the slightest opportunity.
According to the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, the World Health Organisation (WHO) now recognizes burnout, a syndrome resulting from employment-related stressors, as an occupational phenomenon.

Employee Burnout is often characterized by 3 major symptoms namely, feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.

How can employers deal with this issue? Afterall, it is to the employers’ benefit to have more committed and effective teams to drive organisational performance!
• Equip Managers with Tools to Understand Employees’ workloads
Studies have shown that unreasonable workloads account for over one third of the causes of employee burnout. In today’s workplace, organisations are developing more efficient ways of working, with employees working across different teams with different leaders. Thus, some manager might not fully understand the overall workload of employees under them. A modern-day flexible HR management system can help managers understand if employees are being overburdened. Also, support and regular check-ins can help managers understand what employees are working on and if it is too much.

• Offer Remote and Flexible working
In a bid to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, most companies have resorted to remote work from home for their employees. However, some companies still require their employees to resume at the office, having perhaps made the necessary arrangements to keep them safe.

Flexible hours and remote working are simple but vital tools in helping your employees to work in a way that suits them. It should be noted that even remote working can lead to burnout sometimes, as self and result-driven employees will tend to work without limits. The ongoing pandemic has shown that more workers are working outside their normal 8-hour workdays.

Further, this should not necessarily be a pandemic solution and can be introduced as a normal working condition, allowing for one- or two-days’ remote work from home, even following the hopeful end of the pandemic.

• Encourage your Employees to Take Breaks
Employees that are overworked are likely not to take breaks, causing them to skip lunch breaks and even neglect their allotted vacation or public holidays, thus leading to a high risk of burnout. HR teams and SME management should encourage their people to use their vacation days and time-off periods throughout the year so they can unplug, unwind, recharge, and come back to work energized.

HR managers should take note of employees that neglect their vacation days and inform them of the benefits of taking time off.

• Consider Employee Off-job Obligations
As an employer, you should be aware of the possibility that your employees might be working other jobs, or maybe freelance in order to make ends meet. They might even be part time employees. Be considerate, communicate with such employee and discuss how you can work with them with regards the situation.

You need to clarify your expectation and let them know what you are not demanding from them. This would help them strike a balance between their various obligations.
In 2019, a high percentage of people experienced employee burnout. According to Clokify, 7 out of 10 people have had contact with burnout and 5 out of 10 felt stress and have experienced full burnout which crippled productivity.

Your company culture is a failure if your people are not sure of what they should be doing, how much they should be doing and if they cannot take a break even when they need it. Employee burnout is beyond just too much work, it also occurs where employees are anxious or apprehensive, depressed, upset, trapped, or when they lack a sense of belonging in the company. The fact is that there is no hard and fast rule to fixing employee burnout, the best way is to be empathetic about the situation, understand and find ways to deal with and to prevent it in the future.

For more information on training on Employee Productivity, send an email to

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