Employee burnout can happen to even the best workers—particularly those who dedicate a great deal of energy to their jobs and fail to strike a healthy work-life balance. One of the best ways to prevent burnout is through engaging your employees—and that can mean taking different actions to shift your company’s culture to focus on the wellness of the people who work for you.
1. Encourage vacation days
It might seem counterintuitive, but engaging your employees can mean letting them disengage for a little while. When people don’t take time off from work, it can take a toll on both their work and personal lives. Vacation days are offered as a benefit for a very important reason—they help prevent career burnout. Yet 52% of Americans aren’t using all of their allotted time off, giving up 212 million vacation days each year.
Company culture can strongly influence what employees do—if your top executives are working around the clock, your team is getting the message that it’s not OK to take time off. Emphasizing the importance of taking vacation time and all the good a vacation or sabbatical can do starts at the top of your organization.
2. Access their full potential
While you’d like to believe in the old days of lifelong careers with one company, it doesn’t look the same as it used to. It’s a competitive market, and today’s new, young employees are largely interested in the companies that are interested in them. That means building on the strengths of your employees’ authentic selves. Gone are the days of expecting your workers to fit themselves inside a corporate personality profile and work the same way as everybody else. Employees disengage when they don’t think company leaders see their individual strengths and abilities.
Empowering employees to take ownership within the company or department—whether it’s a leadership role or simply more autonomy in how they get the job done—shows them that you believe in their strengths and what they individually have to offer. That naturally increases engagement, building their sense of responsibility and control over their day-to-day work and potential within the company. That, in turn, creates a sense of excitement for what the future holds.
3. Reduce work stress
Encouraging employees to use their vacation time helps to reduce stress, which 80% of workers report experiencing on the job, with more than half saying they need help with it. In fact, the American Institute of Stress says 25% of people say their job is the biggest stressor in their lives. That stress ends up costing companies money, not only in terms of decreased engagement and production, but in health care costs – to the tune of $190 billion annually.
In a 2016 paper, business professors Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer, and Stefanos A. Zenios outlined ten key workplace stressors that contributed to health problems and early death, including long working hours, work-family conflict, low social support at work, low job control, and low organizational justice. That all comes down to how companies manage their workplaces.
Happy employees are engaged employees – take a look at where your company can improve. What are your policies on work hours? How flexible can you make personal days and work time to help accommodate doctor’s appointments, family events, and unexpected emergencies? How transparent are your organizational changes? What kind of input do your employees have in the day-to-day management of their departments? After all, they’re the ones in the trenches and can pinpoint where additional assistance may be needed or how a new policy, piece of equipment, or direction might benefit the company.
When employees know that a company is interested in their wellbeing, their future, and their potential, engagement gets a boost and burnout gets the boot. Take the time to review the way your company interacts with its employees first, and the long-term value will be a stronger workplace and stronger company.