The Fast and the Furious? Not all burnouts are in the movies!
If you haven’t seen at least one of the F&F franchise of movies, here’s a spoiler alert. They drive cars, all kinds of cars, fast and furiously. I wonder how much of the $250 million budget for Fate of the Furious was spent on replacement tires.
Those kinds of burnouts are easy to spot; lots of noise, lots of smoke. But there’s another kind of burnout that employers need to keep an eye out for; employee burnout. That kind of burnout can have a hefty cost as well, in loss of productivity and employee turnover.
So, what does employee burnout look like? Some of the symptoms are probably listed in your employee handbook as no-no’s in the section on Standards of Conduct (don’t have a handbook, let us help you develop one!):
- Excessive tardiness or absences
- Fighting with others
- Sleeping on the job
- Alcohol or drug use at work
Most people have probably felt dissatisfaction with their jobs at some point and have maybe taken a “sick of work” day once or twice. But burnout is more than that. Work stressors, often combined with family or personal issues, can lead a once productive and positive employee to “burnout”.
As the employer you can’t be expected to know what outside pressures an employee may be dealing with unless they’ve chosen to share that information with you. But if you are seeing signs of burnout, you can look at some of the common issues that might be work-related and make appropriate adjustments where you can:
- Have the job responsibilities changed? Have things become too chaotic, or maybe too routine?
- Extremes of activity require constant energy to stay focused.
- Are job responsibilities unclear?
- Are employees being fairly compensated (if you’re not sure, we can help with that too!)?
- Are team dynamics out of whack?
- Any bullies?
- Any micromanagers?
- Is the company itself going through growing pains or maybe financial struggles?
If some or all of your workforce is remote, spotting the signs of burnout can be even more challenging. It’s important to check in with folks regularly regardless of where they work as a matter of course, but especially if you sense a slip in someone’s performance or work behavior. If you provide medical benefits to your employees, you may have not only mental health benefits included with your plans but may even have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as well. It doesn’t hurt to remind employees of the benefits available to them.
A rule of thumb for the cost of employee turnover is one and a half to two times the employee’s annual salary. If that employee is a key contributor, or maybe the one person who can effectively handle that difficult customer, the loss is even greater though difficult to quantify.
Last thoughts; if you are a business owner, you can get burned out too. Heavy demands on your time, conflicting priorities, and the expectation that you should know how to do everything are exhausting. While we can’t run your business for you, we’d be happy to partner with you on the people-related challenges you face.