Three ways to address employee burnout in a fragmented worldby
Augustus Vickery, senior principal at Gartner HR, explains how supporting staff through difficult times helps preserve employee satisfaction and secure business continuity.
The past 12 months have been extremely difficult for businesses – economic uncertainty, supply chain issues, rising prices, and insecurities around day-to-day operations have troubled even the most effective enterprises. It’s hardly a surprise to discover that employees are suffering from similar kinds of tensions.
In reality, 2022 was the worst year for employee stress despite a widespread belief amongst business leaders that it has reduced from the traumatic days of the pandemic.
Employees are 68% less likely to stay at their organisation in the current climate
In fact, new research conducted on behalf of Gartner paints a deeply worrying picture of the workforce. According to its findings: 58% of employees are stressed – a record high, 41% of employees work more than 45 hours a week and 93% of leaders are concerned about employee burnout.
Underlining the business impact this could have is a highly troubling statistic: employees are 68% less likely to stay at their organisation in the current climate, which could trigger a damaging loss of talent and experience. Any drop in business continuity, especially during a prolonged period of uncertainty, has the potential to be highly damaging.
The survey contained some findings that should worry management even more. The problem isn’t just around turnover, which is expected to be 20% higher in the future; it’s also about trust and performance. The survey revealed that only 43% of employees trust management to act in their best interests, that employees are 57% less likely to be high performers and 93% of HR leaders are more concerned about staff burnout. Clearly, the current working environment isn’t benefiting employers or employees, alike.
Recognising the recovery position
The plain fact is that employees have never fully recovered from the pandemic and continue to suffer from fatigue. At the same time, there has been an economic crisis and the ongoing need for staff to deal with the challenges of working in a hybrid environment.
This is having a devastating impact on employee engagement, productivity and intent to stay. As we move into 2023, organisations need to consider how they can redesign the employee experience in the hybrid workplace.
The current situation is having a devastating impact on employee engagement, productivity and intent to stay
So what, if anything, can be done to mitigate the worst elements of staff burnout? And are there any steps that can be taken to actually reverse the worrying trends? The answer to both questions is ‘yes’. There are three steps that businesses should take to help ensure their employees are delivering their best, even when things are difficult.
1. Good performance: give it a rest
Rest is not the absence of performance – it’s an essential part of the performance. Employers should therefore make rest available, accessible and appropriate. This has been shown to reduce burnout dramatically. According to Gartner’s research, 22% of staff crash and burn at organisations without proactive rest, against just 2% at organisations that have implemented proactive rest measures.
Now were roaring into 2023, organisations need to consider how they can redesign the employee experience in the hybrid workplace to prioritise rest and recovery. The current situation is having a devastating impact on employee engagement, productivity and intent to stay.
2. Contact has been established
The second step is focused on supporting interactions. Strong human-to-human connections have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and dementia. It can also boost immune system functions. From a business perspective, when organisations help employees build internal connections their staff are: 5x as likely to be on a high-performing team and 12x as likely to feel connected to colleagues.
Troublingly, 54% of HR leaders believe their employees are less connected to their organisations, according to Gartner research. There’s a clear need for proactive steps to be taken to build and sustain staff interactions as, once again, both employees and employers directly benefit.
3. A developing problem
The third area of focus is around development – both personal and career. When 65% of employees say that the pandemic has made them reconsider the role of work in their lives it’s clear that employers need to pay attention. And when 82% of employees say it’s essential that their organisation sees them as a person it’s evident there’s a worrying disconnect.
The combination of planned rest, enhanced interaction and supported development pays dividends
Employers clearly need to take a personalised approach to support broad development goals, especially as Gartner’s research reveals it builds staff loyalty. More than a third (36%) of respondents said they would be more loyal to their employer if they were supported around their broad development goals.
Caring and sharing
The combination of planned rest, enhanced interaction and supported development pays dividends. Companies that take this joined-up approach are four times as likely to exceed their revenue, profit and customer satisfaction goals. How? Because human-focused organisations enable people to be their best by caring for them through the worst.
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