A company is only as successful as its employees. No matter how good a company business model, a team of burnt-out, apathetic employees will only produce sub-par work. This is why it's crucial for managers to recognize the signs of employee fatigue and make necessary changes to lift morale. The stronger your business's team is, the better client or customer experience will be.
Signs of fatigue
There are times during the year when it can be tough to get your employees' undivided attention, like the days leading up to a holiday or long weekend, or when spring finally makes an appearance. However, if you notice your employees are struggling to focus or stay on task for prolonged periods with no outside stimulus, think about what you can do to help them get back on track. Here are some signs that your employees may be burning out:
- A lack of engagement: If your top team members are suddenly keeping quiet in meetings and always seem distracted, it's a good idea to take a look at their workloads. While personal matters can certainly add to a feeling of disengagement in the workplace, a pattern among a number of employees is a good indicator of burnout.
- Absenteeism: While you shouldn't hold people using their hard-earned sick time and PTO against them, pay attention when people who hardly ever called off work are now making a habit of it.
- Sensitivity: Constructive criticism is an important factor in the workplace, but when the slightest suggestion that an employee could do something differently sends him or her into a defensive spiral, he or she is likely struggling with burnout.
What you can do to help
Many managers are at a loss about what to do when their best employees begin showing signs of burnout. Should you replace them with people who show more enthusiasm for the job? Or should you work with them to get them back to the level that they were once at? It may be more difficult to work with the employees than to just find one, but hiring new help is just a temporary fix – if you don't address the aspects of the job that burned your staff out to begin with, you'll likely end up with the same problem again down the line. Here are a few methods for helping your employees get back on track:
- Don't micromanage: If your staffers are spending too much time on Facebook, monitoring their internet usage or insisting that they send you notes about their daily progress will likely frustrate them. Think of ways to organically engage, as opposed to just demanding their attention. If they feel more engaged at work, they'll have less of an urge to do other things on the clock.
- Show appreciation: Many people begin to burn out when they get the feeling that they're just seen as a cog in the wheel as opposed to a valued member of the company. This could be due to a lack of acknowledgment when a project turns out really well, or they may feel as if they're not paid enough for the work they do. Try to reward your employees for their labor. If your company can afford bonuses or raises, a little extra compensation for people's efforts can go a long way.
- Offer flexible schedules: Many people are overwhelmed in the workplace because they're constantly rushing to get there on time. If you know your have employees who struggle to make it to the office by 8 a.m. – maybe they had to drop their kids off at school – consider allowing them to work the hours that are best for them.