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o the sensible company, employee burnout is not just the employee’s problem. Te

welfare of each individual is crucial to the smooth and reliable operation of the business, which is why it is so important to recognise the signs, and avoid burnout wherever possible. Employee burnout is often defined in terms of exhaustion, inefficiency and cynicism, and can be attributed to a variety of different factors, with work-related stress being a common one. HRreview found that 12 per cent

of employees take sick days from work because they don’t want to admit that they are, in fact, affected by work-related stress.1

Te stigma

attached to such stress causes sufferers shame and embarrassment, resulting in detriment to both their work and their working relationships. Te concept of workplace stress is

nothing new, and a certain amount of pressure at work is often considered a good thing that keeps people moving and deadlines met. However, the negative consequences of too much workplace stress are frequently underestimated, with individuals, working relationships and company operations feeling a knock-on effect. Common physical symptoms of

burnout include loss of sleep and appetite, both of which contribute to poor concentration and performance, and susceptibility to illness. Any one of these can make an employee irritable, overly sensitive or aggressive, none of which are conducive to a healthy work environment. With this in mind, here

are some tips for offering your employees better support and minimising the risk of burnout.

Be clear – clarify what you expect

Te smallest fracture in a message can lead in all sorts of unexpected directions, like in Chinese whispers. Everyone being on the same page is a simple yet crucial factor that can keep stress levels from escalating, so ensure that each person knows what exactly is expected of them on a regular basis. Make sure you outline specifically

what each requirement is, and check back later to see that everything is on course. If anybody needs clarification,

give it to them. It is far better to spend an extra minute or two talking about a job with someone than to lose the countless hours it could take to rectify errors further down the line. Give them certainty in what is going on and where they come into play.

Be present – listen to people

Make yourself open to your staff, and keep it as laid back and friendly as is reasonable. If your employees feel you are present with them without distractions, and can trust you, you are far more likely to be kept up to date

Be free – encourage stress relief

Work is not school, and you are dealing with intelligent adults who should feel comfortable and equal in the working environment. So don’t enforce unnecessary restrictions just to assert yourself – if work is being completed efficiently, and nobody is being bothered, allow a biscuit tin or an iPod at the desk. Make Wednesdays a dress-down day, or allow a different person to select a radio station each day. How about on Fridays everybody brings in some- thing for a picnic lunch in the office?

Offer your ear at every opportunity, and make it known that you can be turned to when issues arise

on any difficulties they come across which may cause problems at work. A feeling of mistrust will only aggravate any situations bubbling under the surface, and in itself can cause stress. Problems with colleagues is another

major cause of employee burnout, and feeling able to rely on a boss to be understanding can be the difference between burnout and resolved issues. Te smallest things can make

big changes. If somebody needs to see a doctor and can’t get a weekend appointment, be understanding and offer them a bit of slack. If someone’s child is sick and they need to work from home, be understanding. Tese sorts of moderate situations can escalate if people feel painted into a corner and lacking in support.

Be fun

Yes, work is work. But if employees feel unable to let loose around you, they are unlikely to confide any difficulties to you either. It is very important to strike the balance between work and play, so be appreciative of your employees and try not to run a tight ship unnecessarily. After all, your employees are adults and if they are not sensible and self-motivated enough to get back to work after a bit of fun, then they are not suited to a professional working environment. Allowing a little banter and fun around the workplace, is beneficial to everybody as it helps to build rapport and ease pressure.

Tere are so many small things

you can do to make the workplace more pleasant to be in, without detracting from the work ethic of the staff. If someone’s day is made that little bit easier by having a framed photo on their desk, or a vase of flowers, then why not?

Be open – give employees a voice

Being heard is being appreciated. Lack of input or opportunity to contribute can often result in people feeling unimportant and unmotivated, as if it wouldn’t matter if they were there or not. So make it known that you are always open to hearing your employees’ thoughts and opinions, and hold regular team meetings. Don’t just leave it to team manag-

ers or supervisors to feed back to you – make yourself available to everybody, and ensure you ask open-endedly how things are going when you speak to each person. Offer your ear at every opportunity, and make it known that you can be counted on and turned to when issues arise.

Be successful – celebrate

One of the most crucial things to maintain within your company is recognition of your employees’ suc- cesses. Let them share in the success they have earned, rather than it all just totting up to kudos for the boss. Establish incentives that make a difference and your staff can see

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