Beating Burnout and Taming Turnover

The pandemic aggravated burnout over the last few years. Workloads intensified, downtime disappeared, and social contact atrophied. While some of these drivers have been reduced as the pandemic subsides, burnout continues to be a challenge as 2022 draws to a close. This blog explains what burnout is, how it leads to employee turnover, and how to prevent burnout and retain valued (and happy) employees.  

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is a syndrome caused by chronic workplace stress that results in exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. This goes beyond everyday fatigue and makes it hard for people to handle even normal levels of stress and day-to-day tasks.  

Burnout takes the joy and fulfillment out of work and makes employees feel anxious, isolated, overwhelmingly negative, and hopeless. It is especially common in hard chargers and perfectionists, whose ambition and high standards can cause them to push themselves too hard and neglect their own needs. If burnout isn’t addressed, it can lead to serious health problems like depression and heart disease.  

How Burnout Affects Turnover

In the short term, burnout causes high absenteeism, decreased engagement, and reduced productivity. Ultimately, the employee will leave in search of a better working environment. Employees who suffer from burnout are 2.6 times as likely to seek a new job.  

This turnover imposes high costs for businesses, which lose productivity, knowledge, and skills each time a skilled employee leaves. It takes time to recruit and train new hires, and morale suffers as workloads grow to cover gaps. If burnout’s root causes are not addressed, it can become endemic throughout the organization.   

Take Action To Prevent Burnout

Managers play a huge role in how employees feel about their jobs. Employees who feel valued, resourced, and effective can better manage stress without it leading to burnout. By creating an environment that values well-being and allows employees to feel supported, managers can prevent burnout and retain talent.  

Recharge

Create a culture that values self-care and lets employees recharge. As the adage goes, ” You can’t pour from an empty cup.” If managers expect their employees to be at their best at work, they need to create conditions that let employees bring their best selves to work.  

Prioritize

Assign manageable workloads with reasonable deadlines. If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. Managers should triage assignments and talk openly with employees as needs change. Remove mundane and redundant tasks to make time for creativity and growth. 

Innovate

Think outside of the box and explore new ways of doing business to boost efficiency and morale. Recognize that things have changed since the pandemic, and consider altering workloads and tasks. Look for ways to be flexible in assigning work hours. Explore whether some tasks can be performed from home instead of the office.

Communicate

Treat employees fairly, and engage in open and honest communication with them to show they are respected and supported. Take a page from Brené Brown and “paint done” to set clear expectations and reduce ambiguity. Recognize and thank employees for their contributions in a way that is meaningful to them, so they feel their work is important and their efforts are validated.

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