Recognizing Workplace Burnout

By Patricia Bramer

Workplace Burnout not only results in low productivity, anxiety, and stress for workers, it’s also a contributing factor in the exodus of women from the workforce during the early part of the pandemic and the following Great Resignation in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 2 million fewer women in the labor force in November 2021 than a year earlier.

As many of these workers still haven’t returned to full time employment, job vacancies have continued to increase, leaving employers in a lurch to not just fill roles left behind, but also to ensure current employees don’t look at jumping ship as a result of having to take on the added workload from previous resignations.

But how can your company or your manager recognize burnout across individual employees? And how can you recognize when you need to take a day off yourself?

Steps to take to recognize burnout

At IPRO, the People Ops team continually discusses with our executives how we as managers can help our employees recognize when they are feeling burned out. We work together to determine what burnout looks like and how we can help identify it across all our teams and employees.

As IPRO has grown into a global organization, we are proud that our staff continues to make themselves available to help one another and importantly, our customers, at various times of the day. However, one of the challenges we face is setting boundaries between work time and non-work time.

As workload balance is often ebbing and flowing, with staff changes, staff shortages, and project cycles all playing a big factor in it different across teams, the role of a manager in identifying and addressing burnout is critical.

Our managers understand they need to take an active role in helping their staff practice healthy boundaries between their professional and personal lives, which is more challenging than ever as we continue to work from our homes. We encourage them to talk openly with their staff about behaviors to help reduce stress, prevent burnout and help establish appropriate boundaries while working remotely.

If managers don’t address burnout, they will have a bigger challenge on their hands.

Speak directly with employees

Managers must be committed to speak openly about stress and work levels with their teams, to help employees earlier identify if they are feeling the effects of burnout.

They can use various tools to lighten burnout for staff, such as using a non-linear workday if possible – giving employees the flexibility they need in their schedule. They also can encourage their employees to build a new morning routine to help prepare them for their workday. Some new routine activities could be setting up morning meditation time, or using your morning standup meetings for daily yoga. They should also encourage their team to take time off from work to truly unplug.

Managers also need to check in with their employees regularly. Not all employees will let you know how they’re doing, what they need, or how they are feeling.

Research shows women leaders are more likely than men to be exhausted and chronically stressed at work. I would guess that men also struggle with this, but hesitate to express to their manager the same challenges of feeling burned out.

Creating an inclusive culture starts with helping all employees, making fair and appropriate accommodations, and simply communicating, speaking openly about stress and burnout. Showing employees you care will help reduce anxiety people may be feeling. At IPRO we expect our managers to connect with their employees through their 1:1 meetings to help combat burnout.