5 Signs of Employee Burnout
By Alyssa Browning
Employees can be the foundation of a successful business; especially when there is only one. However, sometimes- unintentionally- too much pressure is put on that one employee. This pressure can cause stress which in turn can temporarily increase output. However, over long periods of time this stress can cause what is called “employee burnout”. Burnout is defined as “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” So, how can you tell when an employee is beginning to burnout and what can you do about it?
5 Signs of Burnout
- Reduced Efficiency. Oftentimes when an employee begins to burn out they get less work done than they normally would in a certain amount of time. For example, before burnout a self-storage manager would be able to handle incoming calls, unit inspections, and collections calls in a normal work day. However, when the employee begins to burn out they may only be getting the bare minimum amount of work done in that same normal work day. This means that as the owner you will be paying the manager to do half the amount of work in the same amount of time.
- Increased Absenteeism. In addition to reduced efficiency, employees may call in sick more often when they begin to experience the symptoms of burnout. Because burnout affects people both physically and mentally the manager may become distant, exhausted, and sick more often.
- Poor Communication. Because your manager is physically and mentally exhausted- and likely withdrawn from their work- they will have poor communication. This could result in the office being unmanned during working hours due to a lack of communication in being out, increased customer complaints for incomplete or inaccurate information, and lack of relationship between you and your staff. Each of these items create a negative environment that makes working and/or running a business difficult.
- Fatigue. This point goes hand in hand with increased absenteeism. The physical and mental exhaustion that comes with employee burnout can create chronic fatigue. This comes from the body operating with an enormous amount of continual stress. To illustrate, think about a time when you have been under an enormous amount of stress. During this time you were likely fine, because you had adrenaline. Now think about how you felt for the hours or days after that stressful event. Probably tired right? Now imagine having that stress extended for days at a time. This is why employees experiencing burnout also experience increased fatigue.
- Low Levels of Motivation. A supporting point of reduced efficiency is the lack of motivation some employees may feel. When an employee feels the effects of burnout they feel tired, overworked, and unappreciated- whether those things are actually true or not. Because of this, they feel a low level of motivation and a low level of satisfaction with their jobs.
What You Can Do About It
Though this sounds scary- and is something to take seriously- there are things you can do to help prevent employee burnout and/or reduce the effects of it when you recognize the signs.
The first step to any problem should always be prevention. In this case there are a number of things you can do to help prevent employee burnout in your self-storage facility managers. Setting clear expectations and staying consistent with those expectations will set the foundation for a healthy work environment. In addition, providing the necessary resources for your employees to meet those expectations is key. Some of these resources should include training on various items such as:
- Your self-storage management software
- Policies and procedures
- Crisis management
Providing proper training on each of these items will help to prevent employee burnout. In addition, encouraging breaks or small vacations (within reason) will also help prevent employee burnout. This gives your manager time to reset and refresh before returning to work. In fact, studies show that vacations increase productivity for a number of reasons. (more information on this here).
The next step if you do begin to notice signs of burnout is to manage it and help reduce it. A few ways to help manage burnout once it has begun include temporary help, support, encouraging breaks and vacations, and assessing the workload.
Temporary help and encouraging vacations go hand in hand. Many times in the self-storage industry we may have only one manager and everything falls on that one person. Enlisting temporary help for just long enough for your manager to refresh will help reduce the effects of burnout.
Furthermore, offering your support may help. As mentioned previously, employees often feel unappreciated when experiencing burnout. Offering your support is a way to show them that they are appreciated, and will allow them to take a step back (see vacation and temporary help).
Finally, assessing your managers workload and shifting things as necessary will help reduce their stress and in turn help manage and prevent burnout.
To conclude, employee burnout is an unfortunate experience that can cause immense amounts of damage to employees and businesses. However, utilizing these tools and recognizing the signs will help you be a better manager or owner and your employees will greatly appreciate it!