Burnout and Mental Health in the Workplace: People Need Maintenance Too

When work begins to damage the mental health of employees, it can affect their physical health, personal and professional relationships, and the quality of their work. Just like the computers, phones, and tablets we use every day, people also need maintenance. It’s not only ethical, but it’s good business to look after the mental health needs of employees. As more and more companies realize the impact workplace stress places on its employees, they are beginning to offer more solutions to help combat burnout and mental/physical health issues. These solutions are limiting the amount of time employees spend under “time crunch” working conditions and they are actually becoming more productive and happier in the workplace.

Job burnout accounts for an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion in health-care spending each year and has been attributed to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol and even death for those under the age of 45. Despite awareness and well-intentioned workplaces, employee burnout still continues to rise. But it's not inevitable.

What Is Burnout?

If you have a job, you have probably heard the word “burnout” at some point in your life. You may hear it today in passing or even feel it for yourself at certain times. There are many articles floating around that will tell you it’s a silly millennial trend, but, in reality, burnout and mental health concerns affect everyday workers from every generation.

A 2018 Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23% of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes. That means about two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout on the job.

Burnout can trigger a downward spiral in individual and organizational performance. Burned-out workers are less effective, and they have less reason to be loyal to their employers. Mild burnout among your employees can tank productivity, retention, and engagement. Burnout increases churn and reduce the quality of work, costing the company money, as well as employee satisfaction.

And speaking of the cost of employee burnout, Stanford University Graduate School of Business reported that burnout costs the U.S. $190 billion in health care expenses, as well as 120,000 stress-attributed deaths. Yes, deaths. Sounds dramatic, but it’s a reality. The burnout epidemic has become so bad in Japan that they’ve invented a new word: “karoshi,” or death from overwork.

Some fields are more at risk of burnout than others. For example, employees in the healthcare industry are at high risk of burnout, but having access to the right technology to make their everyday tasks more efficient means fewer tedious tasks, less time searching for equipment or tools, and more time spent on patient care. With so many different pieces of life-saving equipment being moved about on a regular basis, having a way to track and know where that equipment is and that it’s in optimal working condition at all times can literally be a life-saver (for staff and patients!).

Main Causes of Employee Burnout

In the Gallup study, they identified 5 major factors that contributed to employee burnout:
  1. Unfair treatment at work
  2. Unmanageable workload
  3. Lack of role clarity
  4. Lack of communication and support from manager
  5. Unreasonable time pressure

The good news here is that all of these are preventable.  Companies need to recognize and address causes of employee burnout and how they can keep these causes at bay. Beyond these 5, there may be different stressors depending on the individual. And not every case of burnout is the same, which can make the problem of identifying the trigger and solving the problem even more challenging.

The ultimate goal of any company is to have a workplace environment that empowers employees to feel and perform their best. When employees are running low on high-performance fuel and essentially feel burned-out and unmotivated on every level, your organization's decision-making, customer service, quality control, and innovation departments are in serious trouble.

Ways that Cultural Expectations Contribute to Employee Burnout

No one can love their job all-day-every-day. While it’s fair to ask employees to remain civil, respectful, and to have generally positive attitudes, it’s unfair to place cultural expectations of “loving the job” on them all the time. Expecting employees to come into work every day with no room to express stress and frustration in healthy ways can create a toxic environment and breed resentment.

Overworked employees have a direct, negative effect on a business’s ability to scale and grow. At times, management might not have a clear picture of what their employees are going through or the workload they are shouldering. Lack of visibility into the day to day workload of employees can wear employees out and potentially even cripple the business due to decreased productivity. While having employees that understand the value of hard work and dedication is key for driving a successful business, having employees that are continuously burnt-out ultimately affects their personal productivity and the productivity of the business itself.

Avoid Added Stress and Burnout By Ensuring Employees Have Everything They Need

One of the best ways to ensure that employees are able to keep ahead of schedule and to avoid delays is to make sure that everyone has access to what they need when they need it, and that there is no competition for resources, breeding resentment between people.

Adequately managing your inventory of toolsis one of the best ways to avoid delays in work, and to ensure that employees have everything they need to complete work in a timely fashion. Time crunches exacerbate existing inventory issues, especially if there aren’t enough resources to go around. Everyone needs to use the limited resources at once, creating a downward spiral of stress and frustration.

By having a way to ensure all the available employee resources are visible and ready to use, employees need to have an accurate and up-to-date method to properly track assets and/or inventory that is needed on a daily basis. Often times items are misplaced and the process of tracking them down is time-consuming or even costly to a company if it has to be replaced. Asset tracking software platforms help alleviate that stress and answer the questions of 1) where an asset is 2) who had/has it 3) what status it’s in.

Ideas to Help Employees Recover from a Stressful Time Crunch

As much as we would prefer them not to, time crunches happen. Work progresses more slowly than expected, deadlines loom, and unforeseen problems crop up. Looking back, it's been crunch time for as long as you can remember. There's always one more big project between you and finally being able to relax again.

Work cycles between steady states, where we feel more in control and those crazy, unmanageable periods, where the work crunch hits us hard. Couple that with unexpected setbacks, project sprints, employees who are not cooperative or may be out on vacations and holidays can create an environment of mayhem and tension. Maintaining focus and energy becomes critical as tasks pile onto an already full load.

You can accept the situation. When an acute period hits, it’s easy to resist the fact that it’s happening. In the case of a work crunch, the more you oppose what’s happening, the more energy you lose. Acceptance does not mean giving in. On the contrary, it means acknowledging the reality of the situation with awareness so that you can take clear action.

Also, remember the importance of communicating with your team members. Pause and consider how you can renegotiate deadlines, set tighter boundaries, or ask for more support during this time.

Practice self-compassion. It is so easy to put blame on yourself when you are in a time crunch and deadlines aren’t being met. Don’t beat yourself up. Find other solutions that help alleviate the situation and bring your co-workers in for assistance. Ask for help – chances are that others will ask you at some point as well.

The American Psychological Association suggests these basic health rules to manage workplace stresses, including the inevitable time crunch, which contributes to burnout:
  • Accept the fact that you can't control everything.
  • Exercise daily, or as often as time allows.
  • Take slow, deep breaths throughout the day.
  • Take short breaks throughout the day to help restore clarity and focus.
Asset Panda has a variety of solutions to many of the business pain points that lead to employee burnout. For those who are tasked with tracking the assets and/or inventory of a business, it can very quickly lead to burnout. Asset Panda goes beyond just the basic check in/check out to provide anytime/anywhere access to the real-time information you need to keep your whole team up to speed on every asset within your organization. Either online or on our free Mobile App, unlimited users can have direct access to the entire lifecycle of an asset, in addition to notes, records of repairs, upcoming maintenance, and prior problems. With better information, you can work smarter and avoid things like asset duplications or unnecessary replacement.

Asset Panda takes out the mundane, repetitive tasks that test employees time and patience, with a flexible and scalable platform that can change as your business changes. Keeping your employees happy and productive will do nothing but boost your business … and the bottom line. Learn more with a free 14-day trial by visiting www.assetpanda.com.

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Audra London

Audra London, founder of Conceptual Communications, LLC, has over 10 years of writing, public relations and marketing experience and serves as an expert on press releases, media relations, feature writing, web content and marketing copy.

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