How to Improve Efficiency & Prevent Burnout
Everyone experiences burnout from time to time. It’s a natural part of life in the workplace. However, chronic burnout can take its toll over time if it goes unchecked. In fact, it’s estimated that the simple occurrence of burnout leads to between $125B and $190B spent on healthcare each year. To put it another way, nearly one in four employees feel burned out at least on a regular basis if not always.
While it’s easy to shrug off the issue as one for employees themselves to deal with in their personal time, the truth is that it can be well worth the effort of a manager or employer to take the time to address the issue of burnout within the workplace. Taking steps to prevent burnout isn’t just beneficial to employees. It can also improve workplace morale and increase efficiency as well.
With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to encourage your team to work “smarter not harder” in the name of increasing efficiency and decreasing burnout rates.
Look for the Burnout Signs
If you manage a team or a small business, it’s critical that you keep an eye out for the symptoms of burnout in order to prevent and minimize the effects on both individual employees as well as the group as a whole. Burnout symptoms can manifest in multiple ways, including:
- Irritable and violent behavior.
- Increased levels of fatigue and insomnia.
- Negativity and depression.
- An inability to concentrate.
- Increased levels of stress and anxiety.
When these signs are detected, it behooves a manager to take steps — some of which are outlined below — in order to address them.
A good manager doesn’t simply wait for burnout to set it. However, being proactive in the fight against burnout can be a bit tricky, as you can’t control your employee’s personal activities or sleep schedules.
However, there are multiple ways to inspire from within the workplace. One of these is by simply communicating your company’s goals, efforts, and strategies clearly with your team. This empowers them to make informed decisions as part of a group effort and can ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Another proven tactic is coming up with creative group activities within the workplace environment. These can facilitate teamwork and bonding, both of which can be ideal ways to keep your team spirit positive and energetic. For example, you might consider a volunteer project, or perhaps the new phenomenon of the escape room. The simple activity of having your employees participate in an escape room with the express purpose of encouraging them to collaborate in order to solve a complex problem is an excellent team-building exercise. It helps to “identify and motivate individual employees to form a team that stays together, works together, and achieves together.”
Empower Your Employees
Another excellent way to prevent burnout and increase efficiency at the same time is to empower your employees. One easy way to do this is simply avoiding a micromanaging attitude. The more you allow your team to make decisions on their own — while still providing the proper support and encouragement — the more likely they are to step up to a challenge without breaking down or burning out in the process.
Another strategy that goes hand in hand with giving your team members responsibility in the workplace is also teaching them the importance of proper breaks. The productivity and health benefits of proper breaks are well documented. For example, 62% of employees reported that they suffered from neck pain at the end of each day, which they specifically connected to their work performance, and nearly half of those employees also said they suffered from strained eyes as well. Both of these symptoms can be easily addressed by simply taking breaks at regular intervals.
This isn’t something that should be left for employees to discover on their own, though. It should be actively promoted by managers. This can directly impact both burnout rates and productivity levels when properly harnessed and implemented in the workplace.
Facilitate Team Communication and Collaboration
While it can be tempting to keep your operations all in one place, often it can be better for overall efficiency and employee productivity to create situations for employees to work remotely. While this isn’t always practical, whenever the opportunity arises it can be wise to take advantage of team communication and collaboration tools like Asana or Trello in order to keep your team connected even if they aren’t sharing the same physical space. These modern communication and workflow programs facilitate a team to work together in real time in spite of a lack of physical proximity.
Proper communication should also address the vertical flow of information between managers and their teams, as well. The feeling of support that positive communication with your team can provide is invaluable. In fact, when an employee feels that sense of support from their superiors, it can decrease the likelihood of regular burnout by as much as 70%.
Implement Inventory Management Tools
Another logistically-focused way to increase efficiency and, by extension, remove some of the burden and stress from your employees is to implement a proper system to track inventory management metrics. This can include things like the number of goods, turnover, and order cycle time. A smooth-running system can do wonders in reducing workplace stress and streamlining responsibilities.
It’s also important, especially in inventory and warehouse scenarios, to make sure that your employees are aware of schedules and company practices so that they are effective, efficient, and safe. An employee that confidently knows when to show up and how their company’s operations function is much more likely to feel at home and comfortable in their day-to-day work.
Teach Your Team
Finally, it’s crucial to teach your team how to avoid burnout on their own time as well. Take the time to explain, for instance, that five or six hours of sleep on a regular basis simply isn’t enough to properly function — science has shown that seven to nine hours is the correct amount. In the same vein, getting proper exercise, taking the time to socialize, and learning how to set personal boundaries between work and home are all important parts of a successful career and, by extension, a properly functioning and efficient office.
To summarize, whether you’re implementing team building exercises, collaboration tools, empowering and inspiring your team, streamlining company practices, or implementing inventory and warehouse management tools, there are many different ways to make sure that your operations are efficient and your employees are protected from burnout on a regular basis.