Hedley Lawson

NEW YORK— As things finally begin to wind down from Expo (and all the prep that came before it) you may see that some employees are feeling stress in their jobs and in their lives. We must admit, it’s only natural given the many events that push and pull people not only during Expo time, but throughout the entire year.

New projects and initiatives require extra effort that can be overwhelming, especially when teams stay late or work weekends to meet deadlines. Add to this the increasing pace of change, resulting in teams pushing harder to deliver.

When employees are not given time to themselves to rest or recharge, constant strain can lead to burnout, adversely affecting the health of your team and your organization. Here are a few of the signs to watch out for:

1. Higher turnover. Turnover happens on any team. But an uptick in your turnover rate may signal that employees are increasingly tired and looking for more rewarding and more stable opportunities elsewhere.

2. Decrease in work quality. An increase in workload or failure to meet ever increasing requirements can be an indication that members of your team are disengaging from their work and projects, and taking less pride in what they produce.

3. Increase in absenteeism. Unhappy employees take more than 10 times the number of sick days per year as team members who are happy at work. Rather than put in another unrewarding day, some employees take “sick” days just to get time away from overwhelming projects.

4. Increase in presenteeism. Not all disengaged staff members skip work. Some employees still show up even if they have an illness or other medical condition. If your team members feel pressure to come into work when they are physically or mentally unwell, it may be a sign to lighten the load.

5. Decreased productivity and missed deadlines. A common response to work fatigue is disconnecting from deadlines. Researchers have found that unhappy workers are 10 percent less productive than their peers. Tasks are completed slowly, creating bottlenecks and hurting timelines.

6. Poor internal relationships. Your team often works closely with employees in other parts of your organization or other locations. When employees feel strain, these interactions can turn negative, potentially creating conflicts with team members and others.

7. Monopolizing your time. Are your employees trying to get you to notice their situation? Burned out workers can lack motivation, asking for additional—and sometimes unnecessary—direction or help with projects they can easily complete on their own.

8. Lack of participation. When employees feel unappreciated and despondent, they may react by opting out of casual business relationships. And they sometimes do not make time for spontaneous collaboration or participate in meetings or company events.

9. Falling morale. Employees who are overworked tend to be more negative, impatient and cynical. This often impacts others on their team and soon everyone is more disagreeable and less happy with their work environment.

Grayson Lafrenz, CEO at Power Digital Marketing, a leading digital agency focused on driving revenue or leads for brands, has this to say about employee burnout:

“Often, employee burnout is considered an individual problem rather than a larger organizational issue. While that may be the case in certain circumstances, leadership should continuously monitor the presence of burnout within their company and note trends. This is especially true during periods of rapid scaling as your team is asked to do more with fewer resources.

“We’ve all seen or experienced burnout, a phenomenon that is estimated to affect 95 percent of all U.S. businesses. It’s the typically outstanding employee who suddenly disengages from their work or the manager who begins taking weeks of vacation at a time. There are many signs of burnout, but the results are always the same: a loss of productivity and an unhappy employee.”

So what’s the solution? Lafrenz said, “If you notice one or even a group of employees displaying these types of behavior, it is time to re-evaluate your company’s practices. As a manager or company leader, it is your responsibility to identify and address employee burnout when you see it. But an even better way to avoid burnout is to stop it from manifesting in the first place.”

The warning signs listed above, are sure signs that employees could be at a breaking point. Once you’ve identified employees are burning out, Lafrenz suggests these possible solutions: keep employees challenged; give employees a path; allow mistakes; balance employee workload; and offer performance-based compensation.

Too much stress, not enough time to recharge, and overly challenging work conditions can all contribute to employee burnout. In this age of increased competition and digital transformation, every successful organization needs happy, healthy and productive talent. If you are not keeping a close eye on it, burnout will compromise your team’s effectiveness and your organization’s ability to compete in 2018 and beyond.

Hedley Lawson, Contributing Editor
Managing Partner
Aligned Growth Partners, LLC
(707) 217-0979