“Burn-Proof Team”: Three Pieces of Advice About How to Overcome the Occupational Burnout
07/10/2019, 2550 views
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Any executive knows the word combination “occupational burnout” – however, not everyone realizes its severity. Meanwhile, a landmark event took place: at the World Health Assembly held in Geneva this spring, the WHO officially recognized the emotional burnout syndrome to be an occupational disease, and entered the syndrome in the International Classification of Diseases.
The WHO is not, as usual, in the first ranks: Ministries of Health in some countries have for many years taken a range of measures to control the burnout. For example, the El Khomri act is in force, which allows any employee to ignore the employer’s attempts to contact them outside normal business hours. Even in Japan, where the corporate loyalty is one of the cornerstones of the national worldview, an act was adopted in summer 2018, limiting the overtime work to 5 hours a day. It makes still 13 hours a day; yet, for the Land of the Rising Sun, this is a great step forward.
A study by WorkingKnowledge evidences that, due to the staff’s stress, employers lose yearly about USD 125-190 billion – and that, in the USA, where this is a real focus point! We suggest insuring against such losses in advance, all the more, it is not as complicated to take care of your employees, as it may seem.
Begin with assuming the responsibility
It is very important to understand that the occupational burnout is not an employee’s personal problem. Rather, it is due to shortcomings in the labor management. Even the WHO definition reads as follows: “The burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic occupational stress”.
Three factors of major psychical load can be identified:
Poor work time management;
Excessive involvement in other employees’ tasks;
Trend toward load increase upon the most talented employees.
Three simple actions to help protecting the staff against burnout
So, in order to reduce the probability of your staff’s emotional burnout virtually to zero, simple and transparent changes in the daily routine system will be sufficient.
Step 1: Change your attitude to the stress
When facing poor labor conditions or overcomplicated challenges, one sometimes would clench teeth and go ahead, overcoming all problems… until the time comes. Due to the permanent stress, the employee spends all his/her resource, after which, they are not able to recover anymore – they are “broken”.
Make your staff aware of your expectations, tell them than you want them to do a good job, but do not want them to get overstrained. Of course, emergency situations are possible from time to time, where everybody has to do their best to achieve the goal, but the main part of the work process is built so as to keep it calm. Let your employees believe that they really can talk to you about their state – overloads, stresses, unjust allocation of tasks.
If you see that an employee is close to the burnout, ask them three questions:
Maybe there is a project which takes much more time than it is worth?
Maybe there are some minor tasks which constantly distract you from the important job?
Maybe it would be just to assign some of your responsibilities to anybody else?
Make the staff understand that an honest answer to these questions will not have any consequences for them. Of course, you will compare people’s opinion with the objective statistics of their job (as detailed below), but anyway, it is quite normal to report one’s problems. Instead, the stress is not a norm, and your common goal is to get rid of it.
Step 2: Cut away everything you don’t need
It is about business processes, established practices and daily routine principles – about everything that could hinder your people by creating additional stress sources for them. The ‘corporate collaboration’ is at the top of the list. Meetings, briefings, in-house correspondence, telephone conversations – your employees spend a great deal of time to interact, to involve each other into tasks, instead of just resolving these tasks.
This makes many people feel that teamwork is something of essence, and they have no time left to perform really important objectives. A study by RescueTime evidences that at the average, office staff check their e-mails every 6 minutes – that is, about 20% of their work time is taken by such checks and fast answers to their colleagues’ questions. If you add messengers, briefings, etc., up to 70-80% of the staff’s labor capacity just goes down the drain.
It’s not about giving up the teamwork at all – you just have to reorganize it:
Check every meeting planned: is it really necessary? If you are in doubt, strike the meeting out of the agenda. If it is really important, put the event to a time when it will not interfere with the work: better in the afternoon;
Apply a normal time span to reply to e-mails, for instance, 1 hour. And make your staff understand that focusing on their main job is more important that their in-house correspondence.
This will be enough for your professionals to spare more time to their direct duties: their productivity will grow, and the stress level at the company will decrease.
Step 3: Make sure people are really efficiently using their time
Poor time management is a real pain of the office work. People get constantly distracted by something: news, chats, social media, just pleasant thoughts about their vacation, etc. Every such distraction shifts the job timeline, and after a while, the employee finds himself/herself in an emergency situation, which means stress, a straight way to the burnout.
As we have stated above, in order to manage the company successfully, you will have to clearly realize what load is assumed by each of your employees. Now, we will add the fact that you should have a clear understanding of when an employee is working, and when they are not.
If you get your people not to be distracted from their job, each employee’s performance will increase dramatically. A thing which took 7-8 hours before, even more in a semi-emergency mode and in panic, will be done in not more than 4 hours. But people will not agree to such changes on their own.
To control the situation, we suggest the Kickidler: this is an employee productivity monitoring software providing maximally full information about each employee’s activities. You will know when the employee sits down at the computer, when they are active and when not, what applications they use, and for how long. This will allow you to:
Identify the procrastinators and tighten the control over them;
Identify the employees who overwork – and investigate why they have to do so;
Assess the load allocation among employees of every function.
Finally, the Kickidler staff control program provides you with a whole range of time optimization tools. You just have to make use of them. It is noteworthy that such increase of control will definitely reduce the stress level at the company – people will have enough time to do their job in due time, in a comfortable environment. It means, you will forget that the occupational burnout exists at all.