Written by Benjamin Lee for iqDynamics
Irritability, fatigue, depression and absenteeism; all these are symptoms of burnout. Recognized by the WHO as an occupational phenomenon, burnout is the result of chronic stress that has not been successfully managed.
While stress is typical around the workplace, constant exposure to high levels stress over an extended period eventually lead to burnout. Increased pressure at the workplace combined with long work hours are some of the main reasons why employees suffer from burnout.
Unfortunately, employee burnout has long been ignored and regarded as a regular part of work in many industries. From karoshi in Japan to the “996” culture in China, many Asian countries even go so far as to glorify burnout. The reason behind this cavalier attitude is a common misconception that long hours somehow equates to greater productivity.
Consequently, this leads to a phenomenon known as presenteeism; a situation where employees continue working despite being unwell. Instead of improving productivity, presenteeism instead leads to higher stress levels, longer recovery times and lower morale. Hence leading to even lower levels of productivity.
On the long-term, chronic stress causes a myriad of health problems and even suicide in some extreme cases. As HR professionals, we need to recognize the threat that burnout has on the physical and mental wellbeing of our employees. If left unchecked, this can result in higher rates of turnover and increased unhappiness at the workplace.
While this may sound like heresy in many organizations, employees should be encouraged to take time off when needed. A study has shown that 70 percent of Singaporeans feel that they are vacation deprived. All of this despite most Singaporeans using up all of their annual leave every year.
The contradictory results of this study could perhaps be linked to the fact that 90 percent of Singaporeans surveyed reported that they can’t switch off from work. When asked, many reported that they were expected to respond to emails or calls despite being on vacation.
Consequently, it should not come as a surprise that many Singaporean employees return to work feeling less the energized. In today’s interconnected world, ease of communication can be regarded as both a blessing and a curse in this regard.
Instead of requiring employees to be constantly connected, HR professionals and managers alike need to ensure that work remains in the workplace. This can be done via HR audits and anonymous surveys to check on employee sentiment.
These anonymous surveys can be conducted as part of your appraisal process where employees should have the ability to voice our their opinions to managers without the fear of backlash from other colleagues or superiors. iqDynamics’ Performance Appraisal system with its 360 degree feedback loop allows employees to provide opinions and comments on their superiors, colleagues and self, hence, allowing employees to voice out their concerns without fear of repercussion.
In many organizations, many top performers often resign as a result of burnout. From unrealistic goals to non-stop pressure, burnout builds up over time as a result of chronic stress. Unfortunately, most managers and supervisors are not equipped to recognize these symptoms.
When an employee becomes burnt out, he/she tends to make mistakes, is less productive and becomes less motivated. Every task is treated as a mere formality and is approached with a sense of detachment.
Failing to recognize the signs of a burnt out employee, managers may attempt to take corrective action without actually addressing the root cause. Consequently, this leads to further stress and pressure placed on said employee. Over time, this takes a toll on said employee’s well-being which causes increased turnover.
In order to avoid such problems, managers should be trained to recognize signs of burnout in their employees. Equipping leaders with the training needed to help employees cope with burnout goes a long way. Reaching out and engaging burnout employees will reduce turnover and significantly improve employee morale.
As a manager or supervisor, iqDynamics’ training management system allows leaders to highlight and develop the professional skills they find lacking to recognize symptoms of burnt out or overworked employees. This also has the benefit of significantly improving an organization’s professional branding.
While KPIs and employee burnout may seem to be an unlikely pairing, the lack of recognition and remuneration are one of the leading causes of burnout. At any level of an organization, nothing can be more frustrating than being passed over for recognition. In many organizations, additional effort and sacrifices are regarded as being just “part of the job”. By taking an employee’s goodwill for granted, leaders are contributing to employee burnout.
Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory explains that while insufficient extrinsic rewards have a negative effect on motivation, extrinsic rewards on their own will only motivate employees to a certain point. In layman’s terms, this means that, financial remuneration alone is a limited motivator.
With IQDynamics’ individualized KPI system under its employee appraisal system, HR professionals and managers can ensure that an employee’s efforts are recognized by the organization. Thanks to our HRIS’s 360 degree feedback system, information between employer and employee can flow both ways. Hence ensuring that employees receive a fair evaluation and are recognized for their efforts.
Burnout is a serious problem that has long been ignored by many. However, with iqDynamics’ HRIS, you’ll be able to equip your workforce with the tools needed to safeguard your employee’s well-being at all times.