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4 Subtle Employee Burnout Signs You Could Be Overlooking In Your Workforce

We live in a world where we’re taught to wear busyness like medals on our perpetually anxious chests. Moreover, now that the world has switched to remote/hybrid working, the lines between the personal and professional have blurred. Employees get off their laptops at the end of the day and jump onto their phones. The average working professional  eats dinner with family while scrolling through Slack and sips morning coffee while  answering emails from the previous day. Weekdays melt into weekends and working hours seem to stretch endlessly. 

It is the typical remote way of living and sadly, the possible culprit behind growing feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, demotivation and a perpetual sense of hopelessness in the workforce today.

Have you met Amber, our employee experience and wellbeing bot? Last year, Amber spoke to over 300,000 employees across the globe. In these conversations, over 44% of employees reported being burnt out due to remote working, even though 77% feel like they have flexibility to dabble at work and home. Such high employee burnout statistics are worrisome to the people culture leaders of today. 

The ‘urgency culture’ is the main culprit behind burnouts

urgent

The notorious corporate culture of every task being “urgent” and needing to be delivered “ASAP” by default, means that employees are left working till late, day after day. 

Unproductive urgency is an acute and chronic issue in many modern organizations and burnout-- the consequence of it. But most people don’t start their careers exhausted, unhappy and unmotivated.  The workplace culture contributes to it. 

Employee burnout and productivity

A common misconception with the culture of urgency is that it makes organizational leaders feel like employees are being extra productive and getting more done, when in fact, it only leads to more problems at the end, like:

  1. It creates a culture of fear: Should they put their phone on loud when they go to sleep in case their manager calls them with an important request? Do they need to take their laptop out to dinner? These anxieties will have a significant impact on employee wellbeing and mental health. When employees are overworked and overstressed they are more likely to become unhappy and dissatisfied. This ultimately leads to an increase in employee absence, increased turnover, and reduced motivation and productivity.
  2. It impacts the quality of innovation: When you rush your employees from one project to the next, you can expect sloppy, rushed work in return. In manufacturing, this translates to product recalls and reworking, which is not only time consuming but also hugely expensive. Similarly, an urgent, reactive culture leaves no time for employees to press pause and deliver their best work.

Is your organization causing employees to burn out? These employee burnout signs can tell you:

Even if you’re an exceptional CEO or CHRO, sometimes the signs of a burnout are less obvious, making it impossible to pre-empt and intervene before it’s too late. 

Maybe this is why you’ve been facing higher-than-normal attrition or employee disengagement? 

If you’re wondering how to identify employee burnout , it’s not too late for you to spot these subtle signs, offer help in time and improve the culture of your organization by multifolds. 

  • Loss of confidence: 

Remote employees are often under pressure to demonstrate their work ethic and productivity levels. Because they don’t share the same work space as their managers, they fear being perceived as lazy.  As a result, they tend to overcompensate by working for longer hours. Soon enough, they burn out. What follows next is that their motivation dips, performance suffers and naturally, confidence takes a hit. 

Organizational leaders across all verticals must stay on the pulse of their workforce and use tools like Amber to offer employees a safe space to open up. Amber’s questionnaire not only helps predict disengagement and attrition, but also provides actionable insights into employees who might need special attention. 

  • Frequent slips:

Staff who are experiencing these symptoms are likely to feel disengaged and have trouble concentrating on their work, meaning they’re more likely to drop the ball or make uncharacteristic errors. As a leader, you could start by familiarizing yourself with the professional capabilities of each team member, so you can spot easily when something is out of place. Next, you must demonstrate compassion and empathy when broaching the subject of performance, acknowledge the impact of the shift to remote working, and offer to help the employee feel more supported in doing their best work.

  • Physical illness:

Chronic stress has been associated with insomnia, persistent anxiety, fatigue and reduced immunity which naturally leads to illnesses. Leaders must watch out for frequent absenteeism in their staff and reach out to check in. Now, in a large company with hundreds of employees, this is infeasible. As we enter a new World of Work, it has become imperative that organizations keep a focus on the employee pulse in real-time to identify and act on the ‘listening’ gaps that hamper decision-making, productivity, and performance. In the future, only organizations with a strong on-ground listening tool and a direct voice channel for employees would be able to ensure employee wellness and business continuity and prosper.

A top secret way 100+ global firms have succeeded in this regard? Amber.

With her life-cycle milestones, and empathetic conversations, Amber is assisting organizations with real-time assessment of engagement fluctuations and even COVID-19 related VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) concerns. Our crisis management beta with 40 organizations was an immediate outcome of the first listening gap we identified: That crisis affects each and every employee lifecycle. Today, Amber reaches out to the entire organization to understand the flux in the workforce through times of crisis.

inFeedo recently hosted a dream panel of 4 prominent HR leaders on how to excite, motivate and exceed employee expectations this year. This panel included Sonali Sharma, Global Insights at Uber, Amrit Jadika Arora, Head HR at Digital Insurance, Vasudhara Srivastava, SVP HR at Xceedance, and Jolvin Rodrigues, Global HR Director and Co-Founder at LearningMate. Here are their takeaways for all HR Leaders in 2021.

  • Relentless cynicism:

People can have a bad day; totally understandable. But if someone on your team is constantly bitter and single-handedly bringing down the morale of everyone else, they might simply be burnt out and in need of a break. Cynicism is also called depersonalization wherein instead of feeling invested in their assignments, projects, colleagues, customers, and other collaborators, employees end up feeling detached, negative, and even callous...and more often than not, the root of this behaviour are  burnouts.

Leaders can ensure that every employee is heard and valued, proactively remove roadblocks that hinder their performance, set realistic goals and reward employees for their achievements to keep morale high. 

 

The pandemic is following us into 2021, and remote work is expected to remain a norm both during and after it. Employers increasingly have the responsibility to ensure their employees’ well-being and to take proactive steps to make operational changes. By paying attention to those workers most susceptible to pandemic fatigue and burnout, leaders can build better organizations for all of their employees.
 
Before you go, here is how Alex Png, Chief People Officer at one of SEA’s leading e-commerce companies, builds employee-first, ethical workplaces in the 'newer normal'.
 
 

If you’re an HR struggling to retain your top talent or engage employees in the remote/hybrid world, we totally get it. Give Amber, Asia's leading employee experience bot, a chance. Sign up for a free demo right here.  


Lakshmi Devan
Lakshmi Devan
You've probably chuckled at something she wrote on Linkedin. An unfriendly, non-sassy, lethargic, dog-hating woman in her sixties. Kidding. Make that moderately friendly, conspicuously sassy, significantly energetic, and massively dog-loving. She is often described as a sexagenarian stuck in a vicenarian’s body – a potpourri of convoluted identities and feelings.

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