Four ways to tackle worker burnout

Flexibility is key: workers most productive when they can adjust the time of their work

Workers can experience less burnout if they are given chances throughout the day to recharge and refocus

Workers can experience less burnout if they are given chances throughout the day to recharge and refocus

 

A recent survey found that the majority of American office workers are happy. Yet they also feel burned out. How could both things be true? And what can be done about it?

Perhaps many workers like the nature of the work they do because it gives them the chance to use their strengths every day. But if their workplaces are making it hard for them to limit their hours and workloads to healthy levels, there will be trouble ahead.

When too much time spent working is the problem, the solutions are not hard to devise:

1 Rein in excessive time demands. Employers should assess the time workers are taking to accomplish their tasks. When employees feel compelled to stay plugged in 24/7, they have less time for life and to recharge. There should be enough teamwork and overlapping responsibilities to allow emergencies to be handled and gaps to be filled without employees’ routinely being pressured to go above-and-beyond.

2 Provide more flexibility and autonomy. Workers are able to be the most productive when they can adjust the time and place of their work to avoid conflicts with other responsibilities. The key is having the willingness to let employees construct working arrangements that suit the content of their jobs, their working styles and their family and other nonwork demands.

3 Waste less of employees’ time. Email overload and inefficient meetings are forms of distraction that a manager has the power to reduce. Policies can be devised to reduce message volumes and employees can be trained and encouraged to use email more effectively. Meetings can be required to have thought-out agendas and clear follow-up steps, and only called when necessary.

4 Make work less exhausting. Finally, even if work hours are long, workers can experience less burnout if they are given chances throughout the day to recharge and refocus. It’s when employees feel compelled to press on through lunch and forego breaks that they hit their physical and psychological limits. – Copyright Harvard Business Review 2015

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