Employee burnout costs employers big time — and with workers going remote, it’s easier to miss the warning signs. Prevent burnout with these 4 tips.
Here's what you need to know:
- Burnout is chronic workplace stress or fatigue, and it can affect both your employees’ mental and physical health
- How to recognize the symptoms if your employees WFH? Notice things like if your employee is neglecting their own needs and interests outside of work
- Your employee may also have behavior changes and deny being overworked
- Some tips to prevent remote worker burnout: ask employees how they’re doing, communicate only during work hours, give a little extra time to complete tasks (if possible), and have a group call once a week to check in and boost morale
Burnout is bad enough in an office — but how can you effectively manage and prevent it in a remote workplace?
According to Clockify, 7 out of 10 people experienced burnout in 2019 alone. While employees and employers alike are taking this phenomenon seriously, remote work can pose a problem. With more and more workers finishing their tasks from home, employers suddenly are unable to spot the signs of burnout.
Keep reading to get all the details on how to deal with remote work burnout.
What is burnout?
Put simply, burnout is chronic workplace stress or fatigue.
Regular employee burnout is directly related to the workplace and company culture. According to Gallup, the top reasons for burnout at work are:
- Unfair treatment at work
- Unmanageable workload
- Lack of role clarity
- Lack of communication or support from manager
- Unreasonable time pressure
We can already see that many of these reasons may transfer to remote work as well.
How employee burnout affects your business
Burnout can affect both your employees’ mental and physical health; the cost of healthcare related to burnout is between $125 billion to $190 billion a year.
While we define burnout as chronic stress, this condition takes more than a yoga session or a short vacation to solve. Employee burnout is real, and the damage it causes to your team and your business is real. Burnout can affect both your employees’ mental and physical health; the cost of healthcare related to burnout is between $125 billion to $190 billion a year.
But burnout also slows down employee productivity and efficiency. It drives up employee turnover, which again wreaks havoc on your bottom line if you regularly need to find new hires.
The problem is how do you recognize the symptoms if your employees are working from home?
How to spot the symptoms
Regardless of where your employee is working, the indicators are the same:
- Your employee is consistently going above and beyond.
- If your employee is regularly neglecting their own needs — like not eating meals or sleeping less, they may be on the road to burnout.
- Some workers will begin to blame other people or events for their mistakes or lack of productivity.
- Does your employee enjoy interests outside of work? If they suddenly drop their hobbies or personal life to focus on their career full-time, this is definitely a danger sign.
- Your employee may deny being overworked because they either don’t realize they are exhausting themselves or because they feel it is a weakness to admit feeling fatigued.
- Employees may withdraw from their friends, family, and colleagues.
- You may notice behavior changes in your employee, such as irritability or depressive moods.
- Ultimately, your employee may suffer serious mental or physical illnesses.
Your employee may deny being overworked because they either don’t realize they are exhausting themselves or because they feel it is a weakness to admit feeling fatigued.
Over an email or Zoom call, these symptoms can be hard to spot. To make matters more frustrating, your employees may not be willing to share their mental state. In fact, they may not even be aware that they are pushing themselves too hard.
But if we look back at the main causes of burnout, there are some things you can do as a manager or employer to help your employee better manage their workload and prevent burnout.
Our top 4 remote work burnout prevention tips
Even while working remotely, you have more control than you think when it comes to stopping burnout and employee fatigue. Considering that burnout directly stems from poor communication, unmanageable workload, and unfair treatment, there are many things you can do to help your employees cope — even while working from home.
1. Ask your employees how they are doing
The easiest thing to do is simply to ask your employee in a private chat, text message, or Zoom call how they are keeping up.
The easiest thing to do is simply to ask your employee in a private chat, text message, or Zoom call how they are keeping up. While this doesn’t seem like much — and your employees may not want to admit it if they are feeling exhausted or fatigued — it shows that you care.
If you are consistent and sincere when talking about non-work items, your employee may open up more over time.
In addition to directly asking your employee about their current state, you can also hint at other topics. Are they keeping up with their hobbies? Are they able to communicate with friends and loved ones?
2. Maintain boundaries
Even before the lockdown hit, workers had the tendency to merge personal time and worktime thanks to real-time email alerts and easy communication. To help everyone adjust, it may be better to only communicate with employees during typical 9–5 hours. This ensures they can mentally “break” from the workplace.
However, it’s also important to keep communication clear. Consider sending end-of-the-day emails to summarize the workday’s activities and tasks for tomorrow. Or invest in setting up a free workspace on tools like Trello or Asana. These SaaS solutions allow you to set up tasks for specific employees and can be a useful way to manage workloads.
3. Give less work or more time to complete tasks
With your team spread out and spread thin as they juggle work, home, and COVID-19-related stressors, focus on your top-priority tasks and if possible, give your team a little extra time to complete them. This will ensure you don’t overwork your employees without losing productivity.
4. Have at least one group call to chat per week
Since the lockdown began, it can be easy to get stir crazy. Consider having one group call a week to check in with your employees, joke around, or just list off topics. Not only will this keep everyone on task, but it can also help you boost morale. You may also be able to pick up on some warning signs if an employee is unusually withdrawn or seems fatigued.