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5 Ways to Avoid Employee Burnout

Apr 8, 2008
Burnout in employees and managers continues to be a major and costly issue affecting businesses today. Major inroads have been made in maintaining employee health through the use of Employee Assistance Programs,EAP, and improved employee counseling but days of work lost to depression and a host of other psychological problems continues to cost American employers millions per year.

When employees lose motivation and interest in their work depression, fatigue, and physical complaints add up to increased absenteeism, tardiness, and lack of productivity. Burnout is typified by a lack of interest in work duties brought about by frustration, boredom, or a sense of being overwhelmed by employer expectations. If left unchecked, these problems and lead to serious psychological issues that affect both the employee's personal and professional lives. But there are some simple and low cost ways that an employer can avoid burnout or mitigate its impact.

Avoid or minimize overtime. Good forecasting of work loads can allow employers to schedule tasks in such a way as to avoid many overtime hours. This practice can save employee burden and dollars spent in overtime pay.

Planning for seasonal work demands and using part-time or temporary services can further moderate the schedules of full-time employees. Even when overtime is required give employees as much notice as possible. This allows them to budget time away from home and family and may ease the disruption of unplanned overtime. But we all know that sometimes a big order comes in or an unexpected contract comes in and asking employees to pitch in is a reality of today's fact paced business world. Then employers can still do things to lessen to burden.

Allow employees to work in casual dress, provide a special meal or treat, or allow music in the office. Of course, sometimes this is not feasible given the structure of your business. But employers should do whatever possible to make overtime work more palatable.

Have an EAP in place. If your business is one that experiences a lot of disruption in work flow and demands, a good EAP is invaluable. Consult your insurance carrier for basic coverage and the dollars spent can easily be offset by increased productivity and decreased absenteeism and turnover.

Finding a good therapist who is willing to form a relationship with your company and will accept referrals on an emergency basis can control costs and provide an excellent avenue for employees who are overwhelmed by work requirements.

Break up to office routine. Variety in work duties is the best way to avoid boredom. Cross training and rotating employees can provide workers with stimulation and increase your scheduling flexibility. Workers learn new and valuable skills that can make their jobs more interesting and break up the day to day routine.

Instituting a "dress down day" also allows employees to vary their routines and have a little fun at work. During staff meetings or employee consultations ask them what would make them happier at work. Sometimes something as simple as stocking flavored coffee creamers in the break room will make an employee feel better and more valued. It can be a small thing but it is a good manager's job to find out what will make your employees feel better about coming to work. The coffee creamer is just one example of a small thing that can make someone a little happier at work.

Encourage employees to get outside during the workday. Having an outdoor area where employees can take breaks or lunches can be a big lift for workers. The fresh air and natural sunlight can ease fatigue and rejuvenate tired workers. Provide comfortable seating in a pleasant atmosphere and encourage employees to take advantage. Employees should be discouraged from eating at their desks during lunch times and make use of a designated break area.

You can stock your break area with items besides coffee and donuts such as fruit, vegetables, salads, and bottled water that will be healthier for your employees and less likely to raise anxiety like too much coffee or high blood sugars like cookies and donuts.

Finally, allow employees to take vacation days in increments of two to three days instead of a traditional week. Sometimes a day or two away from the office can work wonders. Allowing vacation time in smaller increments can allow employees a brief respite without the expense and planning a traditional vacation requires.

There are many ways to avoid burnout and the biggest guide an employer has is their employees. Take the time and the interest to ask them what would make their lives better and be proactive in your attempts to improve the quality of worker's lives.
About the Author
Melissa Vokoun is a successful Business Advisor, Coach and Trainer. To learn more about the services available, please visit the website at: http://www.coachingqueen.com or call 847-392-6886.
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