Employee burnout is becoming a major problem in the American workforce, despite a generally positive economic outlook in the country, according to a recent survey. Workforce management solutions provider Kronos Incorporated and executive development firm Future Workplace teamed up to conduct the study1 on employee engagement.

Employee burnout is essentially when an employee becomes unmotivated in their role, which means they may not perform as well or have the desire to do their best work. There are a variety of potential causes: dissatisfaction with your employer or colleagues, not getting adequate breaktime, unfair treatment from your boss, poor communication from management, too heavy a workload, poor compensation, lack of training, and other possible factors.

As many as 95 percent of survey respondents said that employee burnout is "sabotaging workforce retention," according to the Kronos and Future Workplace report, which notes that there is no obvious solution.

The study is based on a national survey of 614 "HR leaders," which includes Chief Human Resource Officers (CHRO), vice presidents of HR, HR directors, and HR managers from organizations with between 100 and over 2,500 employees. More than 87 percent of these leaders named improved retention as a high or critical priority for their company.

“Employee burnout has reached epidemic proportions," commented Charlie DeWitt, vice president, business development at Kronos. "While many organizations take steps to manage employee fatigue, there are far fewer efforts to proactively manage burnout. Not only can employee burnout sap productivity and fuel absenteeism, but as this survey shows, it will undermine engagement and cause an organization’s top performers to leave the business altogether. This creates a never-ending cycle of disruption that makes it difficult to build the high-performing workforce needed to compete in today’s business environment."

The study's findings show that close to half  (46 percent) of HR leaders believe employee burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual workforce turnover. Nearly 10 percent blame it for causing more than half.

The findings also indicate that employee burnout is a bigger problem with larger organizations. One in five of those polled from organizations with 100 to 500 employees cited burnout as the cause of 10 percent or less of their turnover, while 15 percent of those at organizations larger than 2,500 employees indicated that burnout causes 50 percent or more of annual turnover.

Some of the survey's findings indicate that there are noteworthy barriers in preventing HR from improving retention. For example, even though 87 percent consider it to be a high priority in the years to come, just 20 percent said there are too many competing priorities to focus on. Additionally, one out of five said their current technology was too manual, lacking automation that could improve their ability to "act strategically" to fix problems. Another 14 percent cited lack of executive support as an obstacle, while a "lack of organizational vision" was cited by 13 percent.

Another takeaway from the study is that companies have been more concerned with recruiting than retaining talent. At the time, 97 percent of HR leaders polled said they planned to increase investment in recruiting technology by the year 2020, and 22 percent said they planned to increase spending by 30 to 50 percent. Budgets, however, have kept companies from pursuing solutions to retention issues. About 27 percent said funding is the biggest hurdle in implementing new HR-related technology, which could help.

So what can be done about the employee burnout problem? As noted, there aren't any obvious answers, but that doesn't mean there aren't any at all.

DeWitt suggested organizations seek out and implement solutions that provide a "proactive approach to mitigating burnout." One example he mentioned is scheduling "rest periods" between or during shifts. He also suggested making use of workforce analytics solutions, which can spot trends in scheduling and absenteeism and provide clues about potential employee burnout.

Dan Schawbel, partner and research director for Future Workplace, noted, "As the economy continues to improve, and employees have more job options, companies will have to provide more compensation, expand benefits and improve their employee experience. Managers should promote flexibility, and ensure that employees aren’t overworked, in order to prevent employee burnout that leads to turnover.”

And while the study generally focuses on larger businesses, small businesses can learn from the findings as well. Burnout should be a concern no matter what your business size, and measures should be taken to ensure that employees are fulfilled in their work so that they won't want to explore other employment options.

1. https://workplacetrends.com/the-employee-burnout-crisis-study/


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