The sudden shift to remote work has challenged businesses and their employees, especially employees who thrive in a structured environment.
As an executive in your organization, you may notice that employees seem disconnected from the workplace.
For organizations that struggled with employee retention pre-COVID-19, the past year’s impact may be even more apparent.
Considering that 76% of employees experience burnout at some point, chances are that your organization has been, and continues to be, impacted by this phenomenon.
How Does Employee Burnout Impact Business Performance?
When individual motivation suffers, team morale takes a hit. As overall momentum slows, ROI suffers. In this way, employee burnout destroys otherwise successful companies from the inside out.
But how can one person’s motivation impact revenue so significantly?
When you look at a single burned-out employee, you’ll find they take more sick leave than their energized colleagues.
A burned-out employee is 63% more likely to take a sick day, and 23% more likely to visit the ER, according to Gallup. More days off equates to less production, of course.
But, (and this has a more significant impact on the organization), a burned-out employee is 2.3 times more likely to be actively seeking a different job.
Retention is where a lot of revenue is lost: Voluntary turnover costs U.S. businesses $1 trillion annually. Replacing an employee costs up to 2x the employee’s annual salary.
The cost of replacing a burned-out employee goes beyond monetary loss. Losing your innovators, thinkers, strategizers, and supporters prevents business growth. As you spend time bringing your new employee up to speed, you’ve also lost an insider view of how to improve your organization long-term.
Root Causes of Employee Burnout
Teams working on the ground floor are usually willing to communicate their woes loudly. But we often find employee frustrations are unaddressed or unrecognized despite how obvious the issues may be.
Those on the ground level of an organization have a unique perspective on improving efficiencies. They’ve communicated their frustrations through their actions: They spend extra time filling out forms by hand. They try to balance their time juggling two unrelated roles. They try to plan their initiatives without a set goal in mind.
All of these tasks are tiring. Eventually, the repetition, multitasking, and lack of direction leads to burnout.
How to Identify Employee Burnout
Before you can re-energize your employees, it’s important to recognize when they’ve become disengaged through behavioral clues.
A burned-out employee may exhibit the following signs:
- Frequently shows up late or leaves early
- Uses vacation and sick time liberally
- Less productive at work
- Communicates ineffectively
- Agrees to make a change, but little changes
- Seems generally disinterested in participating
A burned-out employee doesn’t always show these types of behaviors; as mentioned earlier, the worst-case scenario is that they’ll simply quit.
Ways to Motivate and Retain Your Employees
First, when you identify employee (or team) burnout, resist the urge to fall back on disciplinary action. Morale is likely already low, and negative consequences will only lower confidence even further.
Instead, improve your organization’s support system. Start by examining your processes, and look for opportunities to ease employee stress.
Here are a few ways that we’ve used to help organizations retain employees and improve efficiencies.
Create a welcoming onboarding experience for new employees
There is little worse than getting thrown into a new role without training or orientation. It can cause even the most energetic, motivated new hire to feel devalued and regretful of their choice to join your company.
The onboarding experience sets the first impression. Indeed, it sets the tone for the rest of an employee’s time at your company. And a rock-solid onboarding process ensures your new employees feel valued from the start.
An onboarding process doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be documented. Your new employee should be able to plan ahead at your organization. The employee should be able to predict what will happen on Day 1, Week 1, Month 1, and even Year 1.
Your process should communicate your company culture. It should help new employees build connections with older employees. It should provide clarification on rules and expectations. Most of all, your onboarding process should build employee confidence.
Provide employees with ongoing training and coaching
Continuing education is vital to employee retention. Employees who have opportunities to grow in their roles are more likely to stick around long-term. As an added benefit, your organization builds a strong knowledge base as employees level up their skillsets.
Make training and coaching sessions a core part of your company culture. You’ll attract inquisitive employees who hunger for growth. With a strong coaching program in place, you’ll retain those same employees, reaping the benefits of their enhanced knowledge.
Implement CRM software that connects disjointed teams
It can be challenging to tie disparate teams together. This is especially true for teams working remotely. If your organization doesn’t have a centralized system in place for managing customer records across teams, the departments and individuals in your organization can feel even more disjointed.
A CRM, or Customer Relationship Management system, is a tool that can help build bridges between marketing, sales, and service. While most people think of a CRM in terms of improving the customer experience – and it can – CRMs also improve the employee experience.
When implemented correctly, a CRM tool can create a sense of unity and purpose. A full-stack CRM standardizes the moment a marketing lead should be handed to sales and facilitates that handoff. It enables team members to visualize how they fit into the organization as a whole and how each department works in tandem toward a common goal.
It can also create friendly inter-departmental competition, as employees compare performance against their peers and use those metrics to set new goals. And, as employees meet their goals and set bigger targets, performance will continue to rise.
Relieve employees of unrelated duties
We see this one all the time: The head of business development is also in charge of sending out promotional emails or running social media. A person in sales is also the point of contact for IT. No one (and everyone) is in charge of setting sales goals.
Wearing multiple hats is inevitable for employees in smaller organizations. But larger, growing companies need a strategic approach when assigning employee duties. Employees with more than one focus can’t prioritize effectively. Tasks get neglected. Then, as performance inevitably suffers, morale suffers.
To help your employees excel in their area of expertise, hire dedicated specialists for other specific roles—partner with a marketing agency to relieve employees of the burden of managing content development and website maintenance, for example. Specialists can work more effectively and knowledgeably than an employee who balances multiple roles. With more time to focus on a specific task, your employee can bring maximum value to the department.
Final Notes on Preventing Employee Burnout
Employee burnout is inevitable, regardless of what support systems are in place at your organization. That said, you can prevent burnout from escalating into retention problems.
Create an empathetic workplace that prioritizes employee development and welfare, and you’ll have employees who can be refreshed, re-energized, and retained for years to come.