It’s easy to miss signs that your employees are getting burned out—especially if the economy has left you battle-fatigued, too.
But chances are, there are people on your team who are losing steam, given the increased productivity demanded of many workers since the 2008 financial crisis. A Harris Interactive/CareerBuilder poll that was released in July found that 77 percent of employees say they are sometimes or always burned out on their jobs.
Fortunately, it doesn’t cost a lot of money to turn things around if members of your team seem tired, cranky, unenthused or stressed out these days. Here are some tips on how to prevent or reverse employee burnout—before your key players jump ship.
Make sure you are not causing burnout
The majority of white collar workers who are happy at work take vacations, leave work at a reasonable hour, and take breaks during the day, according to the Captivate Office Plus Survey in September 2011.The more organized you are in running your business, the easier it will be for your employees to adopt these habits.
If managing your time and planning company endeavors is not your strong point—and you consistently find yourself asking employees to stay late to tackle last minute requests or jump on a quick conference call while they’re vacationing with family—you need help immediately. Hire a coach, bring on an assistant or ask an organized employee to help you with project management. Running your business in a disorganized and chaotic way is going to drive your best people out the door.
Customize jobs when you can
Many employees’ work-life balance has suffered since the recession, as they’ve taken on more responsibilities. If you have the flexibility to tailor jobs to the individuals on your staff, it can help tremendously in fighting burnout. For one stressed out employee on his team, Gary Levitt, founder of New York City e-newsletter provider Mad Mimi, did away with formal office hours and offered responsibilities that could be scheduled around family responsibilities. Result: The worker’s productivity improved dramatically. "I'm very lucky," says Levitt.
Invest in making workers more productive
If you’ve already asked your team to take on more projects since the economic downturn, they may not be able to comfortably juggle any more. Instead of hitting them with more work, consider bringing in a contractor or freelancer to help for a few days. It’s far cheaper than replacing someone you’ve pushed over the brink with overwork. Or make strategic investments in technology that helps key members of your existing team to work more efficiently. For instance, a Stapes Advantage survey recently found that 60 percent of tablet users find they have become more productive since getting one. To avoid wasting money on technology that doesn’t help much, try a small pilot program among a few employees before making a company-wide investment.