So many people don’t like their jobs that “workin’ for the weekend” isn’t just an ‘80s hit song. It’s a sad fact of life for a lot of workers. According to a recent Gallop poll, 70 percent of people in the United States hate their jobs. It’s 85 percent worldwide. Lack of purpose and fulfillment from engaging and supportive jobs, work environments, and employers has caused a worldwide employee engagement crisis and leads to burnout.
Fortunately, there’s a solution—coaching cures burnout.
Why Care About Burnout?
As an employer, manager, or supervisor, why should you care about employee burnout? Isn’t it the employee’s responsibility to take care of him or herself? Why care if an employee seems too tired?
According to Deloitte’s Workplace Burnout Survey, respondents report that unmanageable stress from work affects their personal relationships, and report that they are frequently stressed and have experienced burnout more than once. Almost half of millennials have left jobs because of burnout.
One of the biggest drivers of employee burnout is lack of leadership support and recognition, followed closely by unrealistic deadlines and results expectations. And employee passion for work does not protect against burnout , with more than half of employees surveyed saying they have many positive associations with their work but still feel a lot of stress because of work.
Workers report that there is little in the way of assistance from employers for relentless stress, with 21 percent saying their companies do nothing about stress and burnout. According to Gallup, “burnout is strongly influenced by how employees are managed” and comes with substantial organizational costs, including more employee sick days, more employees looking to leave their jobs, and less interest in performance and goals.
What Do Employees Need?
Employees want and need more from their work and their employers than just a paycheck and insurance. Gallup identified five important factors that, when absent, lead to burnout:
- Being treated unfairly at work
- Having an unmanageable workload
- Lack of a clear role
- Poor or no communication and support from managers
- Unreasonable time pressure
They explain that employees who experience unfair treatment at work are two to three times more likely to burn out and additionally, lose trust in their co-workers and management. Managers should work to minimize or eliminate bias, favoritism, unfair compensation and policies, and co-worker bullying.
Unmanageable workloads damage employee confidence and cause feelings of hopelessness and feeling overwhelmed. Employees need managers to understand what can reasonably be accomplished and fairly and realistically distribute workloads for the best productivity. You should also empower employees to discuss their problems and create their own solutions.
The State of the American Workplace Report says only 60 percent of workers know what is expected of them at work and struggle with productivity trying to figure it out. Employees need managers who understand and communicate reasonable responsibilities and performance goals and expectations. And managers should enable employees to make decisions related to their role.
Uninvolved or combative managers can cause burn out because employees feel left out, unsupported, and uninformed, creating negative feelings about work as a whole. Good communication and support helps employees deal with stress and avoid or minimize burnout.
Employees who report having enough time to do their work and complete projects are 70 percent less likely to go through burnout. Unreasonable deadlines and strong pressure to produce results in limited timeframes can have a domino effect on other tasks and projects, creating impossible odds of successfully completing anything.
Here’s Where Coaching Comes In
In Employee Burnout, Part 2: What Managers Can Do, Gallup's research points to how managers treat their employees as a key factor in burnout on the job. Great coaches help reduce burnout by:
- Fully supporting employees with clear expectations,
- removing barriers to productivity, and
- establishing collaboration
When they do these things, coaches remove stressors, foster positive work experiences, and impact how employees feel about their organizations and their role in its success. Effective and supportive coaching tactics prevent burnout and protect workforce engagement and productivity.
Listen to Employees
When managers make it a priority to actively listen to employees, with genuine discussions and ongoing feedback, they feel supported and are much less likely to be burned out. Examples include using a weekly check-in list to make sure you ask each employee for input or scheduling a having coffee with each employee regularly to touch base not only on work issues but also to get to know them a little better personally.
When managers support teamwork instead of competition, employees gain an additional level of support from co-workers. Employees gain camaraderie, insight from co-workers closely involved with the same tasks, timelines, and responsibilities, and others who can listen to problems. Examples include partnering employees for training, asking for specific collaboration at meetings such as “Let’s all to work together by posting your task status weekly, letting your workmates and leads know concerns, and regularly sharing ideas and suggestions for advancing the project.”
By actively asking for ideas and input from all employees, managers give a strong message of inclusion, support, respect, and collaboration and dispel competition, favoritism, and jealousy. Examples include something as simple as a weekly email request for input from everyone in a department or team, or a group suggestion box.
Connect the Work to Purpose
Connecting the work to the company mission or vision gives it purpose and makes employees feel more in tune with goals and results and creates a buffer during difficult tasks and stressful projects. Examples are discussing the job and the company goals at staff meetings or in individual check-ins or recognizing team or department accomplishments as they relate to overall goals or mission.
Use Strengths-based Feedback and Development
Valuing employee strengths, investing in employee development, and giving them the opportunity to do what they do best creates a supportive environment rather than a daily grind. Examples are actively looking for the things that employees enjoy most and do well and talking to them about that, and providing training and support for things they need help with.
Managers who are coaches rather than just bosses play a key role in reducing employee burnout. One of the biggest benefits of building a coaching culture is minimizing or eliminating employee burnout.
But it’s worth noting that managers can experience burnout too, and have the same needs to be heard, feel supported, be able to contribute in a meaningful way, and have opportunities to learn and grow. Harvard Business School professors recommend training and support for managers to lower risk of burnout at the management level.
Check out this e-book to discover how to help new managers become great coaches. It will keep employees happy and keep managers from becoming overwhelmed or uncertain in their new leadership role. While written specifically for on-boarding new managers, the tips and tricks apply to any manager struggling to implement their coaching skills.