Avoiding the Workplace’s Greatest Enemy
Despite being a major area of concern for HR professionals and workplace leaders, engagement can lead to an employee’s greatest enemy: burnout. With employee engagement maintaining its position as one of the most controversial topics amongst business leaders and HR professionals, one can often overlook the difference between smart engagement and over-engagement. According to the Harvard Business Review, this mistake leads 1 in 5 highly engaged employees towards burnout1.
What is Smart Engagement?
When an employee is experiencing “smart engagement” they feel enthusiastic and motivated, while becoming more productive: this is the type of engagement that has HR professionals fascinated. Employers are able to cultivate this level of engagement through creating an environment that promotes “physical, emotional and social well-being”2. However, without this sustainable level of engagement, some leaders push their employees towards working too many hours, experiencing chronic stress levels, and consistently taking on above-average workloads. By doing so, managers are exposing their employees to a high risk of burnout.
How to Avoid Burnout
In order to avoid burnout, managers, team leaders, and employees can incorporate the following suggestions into their work style:
- Rebalance workloads: Goal-setting is an important aspect of progressing in a career; however, when goals become unrealistic and workloads subsequently become increasingly imposing, changes need to be made. By becoming more self-aware, employees can make the decision to rebalance their workload when it becomes overwhelming. Managers, on the other hand, should actively gauge what a realistic workload looks like for their employees, and intervene when it becomes too much and symptoms of potential burnout emerge.
- Increasing resource availability for employees: The workplace should be a safe space for employees to discuss their stressors and work balance. Employers should make resources such as discussion groups available for employees who need to confide in others about workplace struggles3.
- Acknowledge hard work: When employees are working in a high stress environment, it is important for leaders and managers to acknowledge hard work and celebrate small successes. Especially when a team is working towards a substantial goal, focusing on the little things and acknowledging successes with small rewards (e.g. afternoon walks, sharing a fun playlist) can remind employees of their value and ultimately avoid burnout3.