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Three signs your people are burnt out (and what to do about it)

Emotional intelligence in leadership

Can you spot the signs of burnout in your team? Burnout is a response to chronic workplace stress, and it’s becoming ever more prevalent. Many cite a lack of separation between work and life as the cause. People are more connected than ever in modern workplaces, with work technologies increasingly creeping onto personal devices, and home offices blurring the line between work and life even further. 

As an employer, it’s important to understand the many and varied causes of burnout, and work to reduce them in your workplace. It’s even more important that you can spot signs of burnout in individuals and plan to negate them. Here are the top ways to tell if your workforce are heading for burnout – and what to do about them.

1. Productivity is plummeting

A company or team-wide drop in productivity is a huge red flag for burnout. This could manifest as consistently missed sales targets, a lack of new ideas, or a growing culture of unmet deadlines. Whatever it looks like, when productivity drops, it’s a good indication people are less engaged and motivated than previously, and it’s likely that chronic stress or lack of direction are the cause.

Ensure you’re setting meaningful SMART objectives across all teams. Clear communication of expectations appropriately manages workloads and gives better visibility on resourcing. 

Regular one to ones encourage open dialogue with management, so your people can communicate their concerns and highlight any blockers to success they’re facing. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions: Are you feeling engaged and motivated? Is your role appropriately resourced? The answers may throw up problems and concerns that take additional workload to solve, but the alternative is a continued erosion of productivity and a rise in undesirable churn.

2. Sentiment is poor, and teamwork is out the window

Negative behavioural changes and shifting dynamics are a strong indicator that people are struggling. It may be that they simply no longer have the desire to foster workplace relationships. It could be that exhaustion is leading to frayed nerves and an absence of patience. If you’re noticing more friction and cynicism in your team, examine whether burnout is the cause.

The best way to understand the issues facing your team is to ask them. Run anonymous employee surveys, encourage open questions at town hall meetings, and task managers with understanding team sentiment. Importantly: act on the feedback. 

Transparency is key. Acknowledging where you’ve been getting things wrong – and how you’re going to rectify them – is crucial to avoiding long-term damage from burnout. You’ll see critical team interactions improve too!

3. Absenteeism is high

Lost productivity through work related stress costs the global economy $47.6 billion annually. Those absences might not always be logged as stress. Not only do people falsify the reason to avoid the stigma or potential fallout of taking time for burnout, exhaustion also manifests in other illnesses, like migraines and gut problems. If your sickness absence has shot up, consider if your culture is encouraging burnout. 

Developing self-aware, resilient teams significantly reduces the chance of absence from burnout. Working with coaches to focus on resilience, your people become empowered to understand their stress triggers. They’ll begin to overcome adversity in a less emotional, all-consuming way. Investing in your people is an investment in your business; building teams with healthy stress responses will benefit the overall health of your business and boost productivity.

It’s impossible to avoid all potential causes of burnout in the workplace; shifting priorities and pressures of growth will always create stressors. As an employer, your job is to minimize their impact on your people and spot the signs of burnout. Taking measures to protect your teams is what differentiates you as an employer, and keeps your people at their best, driving your success..

Find out more about how to spot the signs of burnout, and how developing a coaching culture in your organization reduces burnout. Or get in touch to discuss your people strategy today.