Burnout among professionals is now so common that the World Health Organization (WHO) officially legitimized and defined this medical syndrome. Their official description states that “burn-out is a syndrome conceptualizes as a resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” The symptoms of burnout are characterized by the following three dimensions: 1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion 2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativisim or cynicism related to one’s job 3. Reduced professional efficacy.
What can you do to help the technical professionals you employ avoid burnout? Proactively mitigating the causes of the syndrome can help keep your technical team focused, engaged, and happy on the job. To help your technical team avoid burnout, your company can use the following 7 tips to improve workplace conditions and avoid the negative effects.
1. Offer More Recognition: One of the main causes of burnout is a lack of recognition. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t! A lack of recognition for a job well done, hard work and extra hours put in, and positive contributions can cause some of that mental distance from one’s job and feelings of negativisim or cynicism. Once this side effect sets in, it’s a slippery slope to reduced professional efficacy and exhaustion, which completes the burnout trifecta. Find ways to recognize your employees regularly and stay on top of these recognition efforts if you want to prevent burnout amongst your technical team.
2. Improve Work-life Balance: Flextime, unlimited PTO, partial or full telecommuting, encouraging employees to go home on time—we’re all familiar with the myriad of ways we can encourage our technical team to improve their work-life balance. Make sure your company is proactively improving and maintaining a positive work-life balance for the technical professionals you employ if you want to keep your employee retention rates high and your employee burnout rates low-to-nonexistent.
3. Encourage PTO Usage: A lot of companies are implementing a minimum PTO usage policy to prevent their employees from experiencing burnout. This is a set number of days, often less than the total number of days offered each year, which you require every employee to take off before the end of the calendar year. Unlike a “use it or lose it” policy, this fits in well with work-life balance improving offerings like unlimited PTO.
4. A Boss With an Open Door: Before burnout sets in, many employees will want to speak up about their workload becoming too difficult or their need for a vacation. If they feel like they don’t have a supportive boss with an open door to these concerns, they won’t speak up and they’ll slip into burnout silently. That’s why it’s so important to emphasize that your door is always open to any questions, concerns, or ideas from the employees on your technical team. They may come to you with a brilliantly innovative idea or they may come with concerns that they’re slipping into burnout territory. You’ll never know unless you keep your door open.
5. Proactive Hiring Efforts: One major cause of burnout, especially amongst technical professionals, is overwork. If your employees consistently have too much work on their plates, you need to proactively hire new technical professionals to help them avoid this overwork. As you know, the IT hiring process is often lengthy and expensive so it’s important to stay on top of how much talent your team needs to do the job at hand before your employees are left with too much on their plates every day for a long period of time.
6. Regular Check-Ins: It’s hard to mitigate burnout if you don’t spot the signs early on. Reduced performance levels, exhaustion, increased work hours, a lack of PTO days taken, and a sudden shift to a negative demeanor can all be signs of potential or current burnout. Luckily, if you check in regularly with your employees, you can spot these signs early and work with them to help stem the oncoming tides of burnout before it fully crashes into your workplace.
7. Encourage Energizing Habits: From healthier snacks provided in the break room to onsite gyms so your employees can stay in shape conveniently, there are a lot of perks you can offer your employees that will encourage energizing habits. You can also implement a wellness program with meditation or yoga courses that help mitigate stress or sleep experts who introduce your employees to a few ways to improve their rest every night so they feel more energized during the day. Any help you can provide encouraging these energizing habits will prevent your technical employees from exhaustion, which is a key factor in burnout.
Burnout is common but that doesn’t mean it has to be a common occurrence amongst your technical employees. Utilize these 7 tips to prevent the three side effects of burnout from setting in and to keep your technical employees engaged, positive, and productive.