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3 Tips to avoid burnout

Updated: May 5, 2022

It’s difficult to imagine that only a couple of years back, we all dreamed of one thing. To be able to work from the comfort of our homes, without the hassle of commuting.

The pandemic has, if nothing else, made this dream come true!

Unfortunately, as we have all come to realize, this victory has been especially short-lived. Rather than a comfort, it’s now become a millstone around our necks. For most of us the working schedules have just ballooned. Some have even complained of 100 hour work weeks with only 5 hours of sleep. Such routines can only lead to employee burnout which result in irreversible and costly loss of productivity for the employee and the organization.

With a view to avoid such occurrences, listed below are 3 telltale signs of employee burnout. They are listed in order of increasing severity.

1. Physical Burnout- At the body level, the first signs of burnout include fatigue and exhaustion. This would be evident from slippages in deliverables. If continued for prolonged periods of time, they could result into inflammation in the body causing aches and pains in the body.

2. Mental Burnout- While physical burnout causes decrease in productivity, the mental burnout would normally result in decrease in problem solving ability and creativity. The ability to innovatively solve challenges would be impaired at this stage and would cause employees to respond to new challenging situations with fixed non-optimal responses.

3. Emotional Burnout- While this is the last on the list, it is certainly not to be taken lightly. Employees who are emotionally burned-out, lack the ability to effectively engage with their co-workers and customers. This is because, true engagement requires a great deal of emotional resilience and flexibility. Inability to connect with others, is the primary cause of stress in our bodies which also has been identified as a potential cause of auto immune disorders. Many of these ailments are aptly described as lifestyle disease, having no long-term medical cures.

Based on the above, it is clear that the effects are severe for individuals and organizations alike. They have far-reaching consequences, adversely impacting the medium to long-term survival of both.

Once identified, despite their extent, it’s never too late to begin addressing the issues. The solutions to be most effective should necessarily be based on the depth of the problem experienced.

Listed below are a summary of the simplest tips, which could result in maximum impact on employee morale, vitality and productivity:

1. Nurturing Physical Vitality: Requesting employees to dedicate a physical workspace at home is one of the simplest tips in this category. Dressing up for work, even if working form home also facilitates the mental engagement & disengagement from activity. Employees should also be advised that for others to respect their personal time, they, need to in turn respect the personal time of others. While these may sound simple, to be really effective, it has to be implemented in a disciplined manner organisation wide. Some industry leaders have already begun.

2. Honing Mental Acuity: The hygiene factors required to be put in place to minimize the occurrence of mental burnout are relatively personal and do not require large organizational initiatives. Employees can be requested to start their day with simple to-do lists in the morning and reflect on their accomplishments after work. At an organizational level, team and individual accomplishments need to be recognized and celebrated on a weekly/ monthly basis as it raises employee morale. Leaving all accomplishments to be valued through year-end bonus payouts is a too late and too costly solution for managers.

3. Facilitating Emotional Engagement: At an emotional level, the solutions get even more personalized. The only way employees can hope to reconnect with their emotional selves is by engaging into activities which integrate their mind with their bodies. Listening to music, meditation, yoga, home exercises, cooking are some of the activities that facilitate emotional grounding. Given the extent of savings accruing from not operating office premises, many firms are providing free online resources to their employees in this area.

As can be appreciated, the solutions are numerous and limited only by imagination. However, despite their low cost, and ease of implementation, most firms have been slow to proactively initiate change. In the months to come, there will be a clear demarcation between the early implementors and laggards. All with learn that employees are organization’s most valuable resources. Caring proactively for them by attending to their needs is key to personal and organizational survival.

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