5 Ways to Avoid Employee Burnout

You survived your busiest time of the year—the holiday rush. And your employees were likely the engine that fueled your success. They worked extra hours and dealt with demanding customers, all while taking care of their own families. But even well-oiled employees can start to burnout after heavy use. That can lead to lower productivity, absenteeism or worse yet, turnover. Tune-up your biggest resource with these tips to avoid employee burnout in your small business.

Tip #1 Recognize the Signs

It’s easy to get so involved in the day-to-day operation of your business that you miss the symptoms of employee burnout. But early detection gives you the opportunity to do something about it, while there’s still time. Some of the more obvious signs include an increase in the number of times employees call in sick/late or errors with customer orders. But there can also be more subtle signs that employees are becoming less engaged. These might include less socialization among employees, an “it’s good enough” attitude, or a low tolerance for change.

Tip #2 Take Time to Listen

If you suspect that your staff is approaching burnout, find time to listen. One way to do that is with regular 1-on-1 sessions. Some employees might hesitate to talk in a staff meeting but are more comfortable talking individually with you. Start by acknowledging what you observe. Then probe for more information. For example, you might comment that you’ve noticed the person spends less time with other employees than they used to. Ask him/her why. Conversations like this help to identify the sources of stress.

Tip #3 Practice Gratitude

When was the last time you told an employee “thank you?” Most people are willing to work hard if they know someone appreciates it. So use this simple (and free) tool to motivate staff for the everyday things they do. The frequency and the method you use to say “thanks” will vary by the person. Some people are embarrassed by constant attention while others thrive on it. The key is for it to be genuine. Encourage employees to do the same for each other.

Tip #4 Reward Achievement

If an employee goes above and beyond what you expect, find a meaningful way to reward them. One employer does that by giving out “Balance” certificates. Employees can redeem them for two hours of paid time off on a date they work out with the business owner. The secret of this reward is that it acknowledges that employees sacrifice their work-life balance by having to spend more time at work. Employees are free to use it how they wish—catching up on personal errands, quiet time at home, or doing a fun activity with their child.

Tip #5 Take Two

Promote a healthy workplace by making it okay for employees to take a couple of two-minute breaks during the workday. Short breaks like this aren’t likely to impact production substantially but they can provide just enough time to recharge. It helps employees take a step back and gain some perspective on their day. Start with leading by example. When you take a quick break, it demonstrates the value you place on this activity. And it gives employees permission to try it for themselves.

For a wealth of additional tips to keep an environment of productivity, check out our blog, 30 Easy, Non-Monetary Ways to Reward Your Staff .

Even the highest performing engine needs a tune-up once in a while. So be sure the staff that powers your success isn’t suffering from burnout. Periodic maintenance, like the ideas presented here, can help them perform at their best.

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