5 Causes of Employee Burnout

Causes of Employee Burnout Publié le 10 November 2020 Par

By identifying 5 causes of employee burnout, businesses can create a positive and supportive work environment. This will support the overall well-being of the people who work there and devote their time, energy and effort to the success of the company.

Employee burnout is a serious problem affecting people working in all job fields and industries. It is a specific kind of workplace-related stress which results in physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, among other symptoms. For people experiencing the symptoms and signs of employee burnout, it’s important that they be encouraged to speak up, address the problem and get the help they need to improve their well-being.

When trying to recognize and treat the problem of burnout, an effective solution is to address the causes of employee burnout before they grow and start to negatively affect people. If businesses make a commitment to root out these causes, it can save workers a great deal of problems and difficulty caused by employee burnout.

Causes of Employee Burnout

  • Lack of recognition
  • Unrealistic deadlines
  • Toxic workplaces
  • Pressure from managers
  • Improper work-life balance

Lack of Recognition

Everyone likes to hear that they are doing a good job. Positive feedback can improve your mood, confidence and overall performance. Proper employee recognition is more than just positive feedback, however. In addition to tangible incentives like salary increases, additional benefits and increased input, it involves ensuring that employees understand that their achievements and successes will create a path for career advancement and professional growth.

No one likes to think that they work in a void, performing actions that have little to no impact. The feeling that their work and effort amounts to little is one of the strong causes of employee burnout, and has led many to leave their jobs. Company leaders need to acknowledge the effort of every single employee, and celebrate each achievement and success along the way. Even if a project does not achieve the exact desired results, as long as an employee is making every effort and displaying a growth mindset to achieve success for the company they still deserve to be recognized. Making sure that each person in the workplace feels valued and appreciated will go a long way to reducing the chances of employee burnout.

Unrealistic Deadlines

Deadlines are important. When working towards large goals, it helps to set timelines and plan to have certain tasks completed by certain points of time. It helps people to stay focused and motivated, while making it more clear how to best manage their time for maximum efficiency. Deadlines can easily become a problem, however, when they are unrealistic or flatout impossible to achieve. A SHRM survey found that deadlines are in fact the number one cause of stress in the workplace.

When companies are setting their goals for the year, quarter or even just the week, it is vitally important to involve employees from every level of the company in the process. Setting proper deadlines requires breaking each project into manageable tasks and steps, and getting honest feedback from workers regarding the amount of time they will need to properly complete each assignment. Unilaterally imposing deadlines will lead to resentment from workers and increase the likelihood of employee burnout.

Unrealistic deadlines leads to employees working overtime, rushing through work, missing important details and delivering poor results. This “crunch time” is all too common in several industries, and can take a serious toll on the physical and mental health of employees. Unrealistic deadlines produce poorer results and are far more likely to lead to employee burnout, so there is no upside to this type of pressure.

Toxic Workplaces

Workplaces should be supportive, collaborative and — above all else — respectful. When relationships between co-workers sour, it leads to a toxic workplace and is one of the major causes of employee burnout. People have different personality types, and sometimes these personalities don’t mesh perfectly. Employees will not become life-long best friends with every person they work with, and this should not be expected. What should be expected, is that colleagues treat each other with basic respect and courtesy at all times, even when they have different personality types.

The characteristics of a toxic workplace can include gossip, bullying, and — in the worst cases — harassment. If an employee feels that they are being pushed around, taken for granted, made fun of or verbally attacked, it places an incredible amount of stress and anxiety on workers, not to mention just being wrong. Every business needs strong HR policies and procedures in place in order to prevent and address toxic behaviour in the workplace. These rules need to be extended to the virtual offices and those working remotely, so that each worker is still treated with respect and dignity, reducing the chances of employee burnout.

Pressure from Managers

A successful company needs strong leaders to achieve these results, and a bad boss can just as easily doom a business to stagnation. A good boss will realize that they lead a team of diverse individuals with unique perspectives, skills and abilities, and that allowing them the freedom to work in the way that best suits them will lead to the best results. Bad bosses try to dictate their employees’ every move, don’t listen to feedback, don’t adjust for different work personalities and don’t offer support.

Bad bosses are surprisingly common with 49% of employees reporting that they have left their jobs because of a bad boss. With unfair expectations and a lack of trust, it leads to workers feeling a lot of pressure to meet unfair expectations, without expecting any positive support or even acknowledgement. A bad boss can be a strong factor in employee burnout, as workers try desperately to please someone who could literally decide the future of their career.

Improper Work-Life Balance

A proper work-life balance is important to maintaining mental, emotional and even physical well-being. When personal and professional lives become out of balance, it is one of the major causes of employee burnout. Having the resources and support to pursue both professional and personal goals is growing more and more important with each generation of employees. A 2020 survey found that 68% of Canadian employees say work-life balance is very important to them, while the same amount state that their employers are not fulfilling this need.

The struggle for proper work-life balance has grown even more challenging due to the side-effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. One of the best methods for achieving a work-life balance is to have a clear separation between work time and personal time. The resulting switch to remote work has led to over 5 million Canadians working from home for the first time, effectively removing this barrier. While these distancing steps are necessary, it must be acknowledged that these circumstances challenge people’s emotional and mental well-being. It can be very difficult to mentally “clock-out” at the end of a work day when this does not involve a change of physical location. Even though carving out specific periods for work time and personal time can greatly help, for people working at home with families and children this can be literally impossible.

The inability to maintain a proper work-life balance is a major cause of employee burnout, and when there is barely any separation from work and life it greatly increases the likelihood that serious feelings of burnout will occur. 

Employee burnout is a major problem, and it should always be addressed as soon as possible. By recognizing 5 causes of employee burnout, it will be possible to correct these issues before they have negative consequences for workers. This will help to ensure that employees enjoy strong overall well-being, and the business remains an effective and positive place to work.

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