Burnout can make once highly engaged employees experience exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency. (Photo: Shutterstock)

There are two sides to every coin. For employers who are able to motivate and engage employees at a very high level, there is also the possibility of burnout. According to a new report from Limeade, “Can You Spot Burnout?” by Dr. Laura Hamill, “top performing, highly engaged employees are at the highest risk for burnout. And these are the employees that employers can’t afford to lose.”

Over time, employees, even highly productive and motivated ones, simply cannot sustain high performance levels. The report goes on to say that prolonged exposure to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job will increase the likelihood of burnout. Employers who see once highly engaged employees now experiencing exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency should beware. Those employees will soon exhibit traits on the other end of the spectrum such as low productivity and even worse, employers could start losing their most valuable workers.

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The most common causes of burnout can include:

  • Work and time overload
  • Pressure
  • Role conflict and ambiguity
  • Lack of managerial support
  • Lack of feedback
  • Lack of participation in decision-making
  • Lack of fairness and equity
  • Values disconnect
  • A broken psychology contract

For an employer with employees going through such issues, there may be more cases of absenteeism, higher turnover and in some cases, a contagious effect on other employees.

The good news, according to the report, is that burnout is preventable. A strong management team has to be keenly aware of its employees and some of the causes of burnout festering in the workplace. Hamill recommends four ways to prevent burnout:

1. Keep a close eye on your employees. If people are working to and beyond their capacity, it’s likely time for a break. Managers have to help by adjusting workloads and being aware when someone is taking on too much or simply overworked. And while breaks and schedule shifts are important, managers should also focus on the root causes of the burnout, as well.

2. Positivity should not be underrated or overlooked. Where some people see stress, others see an exciting challenge. Knowing how your employees view their situations can make a difference in their outlooks. As a result, managers can better help people deal with situations before it gets to the burnout stage. Spread positive messages and make sure employees are taking the time they need for themselves.

3. Create an open and supportive environment. A more social environment allows people to feel more relaxed and better able to share their issues and problems. Social support, according to the report, “positively relates to important factors that impact stress, health, well-being and engagement.” Employers can help foster that support among employees and help prevent or treat burnout before it gets too acute.

4. Help employees connect to their purpose. Employees thrive on connection to their work and other employees, and with a greater connection comes a better attitude towards stressful work situations. Communication is key and helping employees know how their work is connected to the overall mission of the company will help employees find a purpose that can guide them through rough times.

Overall, managers and employees have to stay in close touch with their employees and keep a close eye on moods and workloads. By doing this, they not only help employees feel connected and better-able to tackle stressful work situations, they also will help their bottom line be attracting and retaining the best people in the workforce.