Dina Knight, Chief People Officer, Logicalis
Employee burnout has become an increasingly alarming concern in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. With the pandemic forcing many employees to work remotely, isolation and blurred boundaries between work and home life have led to a significant increase in burnout cases. According to a recent survey from Slack, burnout increased to 40% at the end of 2022, while McKinsey reported that 27% of UK workers experienced burnout symptoms. This situation has highlighted the urgent need for employers to take immediate steps to address the problem.
Interestingly, the same 2022 McKinsey report indicated toxic workplace behaviour was the most significant predictor of burnout symptoms and intent to leave. This underscores the need for organisations to prioritise creating a healthy and supportive work environment that addresses the root causes of burnout. It is now a necessity for modern businesses to empower leaders to proactively address burnout, creating a workplace that promotes employee well-being and productivity.
In a recent HRD Connect interview, I sat down with Ruth Meehan, Head of People Partners at Udemy, to discuss how organisations and leaders can address burnout through learning and career development, mentoring and coaching, flexible work arrangements, and work-life balance. We identified several key initiatives, methods, and policies that organisations should consider to support employees and prevent potential burnout.
Identifying the Root Causes of Burnout
The first step in addressing employee burnout is to identify the root causes. For instance, company values that don't align with employees' own values can compromise their motivation to fulfil the company's mission. Dysfunctional workplaces can also cause burnout, leading to confusion because of arbitrary deadlines, a lack of planning, having managers who are almost uncontactable to solve problems, and a sense of always sticking to the 'traditional' way of doing things.
Additionally, employee expectations and standards have never been higher, leading to job dissatisfaction and high turnover rates. Organisations need to create a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable sharing their concerns and ideas. This can be achieved by conducting regular employee surveys, hosting focus groups, and providing opportunities for one-on-one meetings with management.
Implementing Effective Strategies That Create a Flexible Work Environment
Organisations should implement effective strategies to create a flexible work environment that supports employee well-being while maintaining productivity. This includes offering flexible work arrangements such as remote work, flexible hours, and job sharing. By allowing employees to work in a way that suits their lifestyle and personal circumstances, organisations can promote work-life balance and reduce stress levels.
Moreover, technology is all about people, so digital transformation must also be people transformation. Companies that invest only in technology to boost operations processes but not to empower their people will breed dysfunction. Collaboration tools enable businesses to inspire innovative ideas and bring teams closer together, regardless of location. This helps build resilience, increase employee engagement, drive retention, and boost business growth and success.
Encouraging Leaders to Take a Proactive Approach to Identifying and Addressing Employee Burnout
Leaders play a critical role in addressing employee burnout. They need to take a proactive approach to identifying and addressing burnout symptoms in their team members. Leaders should encourage open communication, provide regular feedback and recognition, and promote a positive work culture.
A people-first approach is crucial. Businesses alike must remember that their people are their most valuable asset, and even in the face of challenging circumstances and pressure on mental health, employees have demonstrated agility and adaptability to help support business continuity.
To support this, at Logicalis we have launched a global leadership framework which is focused on investing in our leaders, so they are confident to manage the wellbeing of their employees, from coaching and mentorship to development and wellbeing needs.
Investing in employee development, providing flexible work arrangements, and encouraging open communication can help organisations address employee burnout and create a thriving workforce. At Logicalis, the wellbeing and development of both current and future leaders is at the centre of everything we do.
Organisations must prioritise creating a healthy and supportive work environment that addresses the root causes of burnout. With the right strategies, policies, and initiatives in place, organisations can empower leaders to proactively address burnout, promoting employee well-being and productivity. Ultimately, a workplace that prioritises employee well-being will lead to a more productive and successful business.