Burnout in the workplace is no longer an anomaly; it’s becoming the norm. And issues related to overworked employees are becoming a major public health issue in the country. As a matter of fact, it was estimated that healthcare costs related to burnout have reached around 125 to 190 billion dollars every single year.
As employers, our first reflex is to try to reach our revenue goals no matter what, even if it’s at the detriment of our employees. But overworked employees are less efficient, loyal, and engaged. Making sure that your employees aren’t going past their breaking point is essential for your business and their own personal health. Let’s take a look at how you can prevent overworking your employees.
Focus on Your Employees Well Being by Making Real Changes
By setting up programs that focus on providing wellness to your employees, you can start creating a healthier environment for them to work in. By providing gyms, meditation programs, better health insurance benefits, etc., your employees will start feeling like you really care about them and are actually ready to follow through with action. This will go a long way to motivate them and push them to give that second effort when it’s needed.
Set Clear Expectations
In many cases, leaders may think that the objectives of a particular project have been made very clear when it’s actually the opposite. Before you let your employees tackle any project, you have to make sure that the outcomes you’re expecting are explicit. There’s no need to micromanage every single aspect of the project, however; just make sure that they know what success should look like when the task is completed. And while micromanaging is never a good idea, you have to make sure that you maintain clear lines of communication between you and your employees at all times, to prevent confusion.
Set an Example
You should also make sure that senior leaders are setting the tone for the whole organization. You can set an example by setting clear boundaries for yourself and letting your employees know that while you’re serious about reaching objectives, you also seek balance by respecting your down times. Let them know that you’ll be there whenever they want during work hours but set clear limits when you’re offline and stick to them. You also have to respect your employees and don’t encroach on their down times as well.
As far as downtimes go, make sure that you don’t only encourage them, but enforce them as well. Give them an ample lunch break and encourage your employees to take a walk during that time so they can take their minds off work. You could also set up a few recreation rooms with entertainment, so they can really disconnect during breaks and socialize with other co-workers. They’ll come back refreshed for work and will be much more engaged and efficient as a result. They’ll also start forming bonds and friendships, which will make them much more efficient as a team.
Respect your Employees Work/Life Balance
You have to remember that your employees are human and have lives outside of work. While they have to understand that they might have to work longer hours at times, you should be able to recognize when it’s starting to take its toll on their personal lives.
If you’re aware that someone in your team has had a lot on their plate lately, then you could allow for some days off here and there if needed. If they’re valuable to your team and you want to prevent burnouts, you could also grant them one “must have” per week. That could be allowing them to be home for Wednesday night dinners with the family or allowing them to be on time for their son or daughter’s baseball game.
Eliminate Bottlenecks by Visualizing your Workflow
Bottlenecks can be a clear sign that your employees may be overworked or overextended. But unless you can visualize your workflow clearly, then it may be difficult to identify when and where in the process they are. If you want to visualize your workflow better, you could use a visualization tool like a Kanban board that will allow you to see these bottlenecks clearly and the reason behind them.
If you don’t know what a Kanban board is, it’s a tool that allows you to see the progress of each task through a series of columns on a board. At the minimum, a Kanban board will have a requested, in progress, and done column. New tasks are placed on a Kanban card, which will go through each column.
While original Kanban boards were built using a whiteboard, there are various applications that allow you to create a virtual Kanban board that can be accessed from anywhere. One example is Kanbanize, which will allow you to not only visualize your workflow, but prevent overloading your employees by setting work in progress limits, or WIP limits. By applying work in progress limits, you’ll be able to not only prevent exceeding your team’s work capacity but also ensure that your team will maintain an optimal work pace.
Setting WIP limits will depend on various factors and you’ll have to monitor your team’s workflow on a day to day basis – and set limits accordingly. WIP limits might need to be adapted according to increased customer demand, unexpected technical issues, or changes in your workforce, among other things.
Making sure that you use a visualization tool, monitor your workflow daily, identify bottlenecks, and never exceed your work in progress limit is the best way to ensure that your workforce is never overworked.
Overworking your employees might seem like a great way to increase your bottom line at first but it may end up hurting your business in the long run. Make sure that you stay attentive to your employees’ needs, monitor and visualize your workflow, and create a team culture and environment focused on collaboration, communication, and fair responsibility on both sides.