In the past week, in conversations with contractors, two have mentioned that the ‘feel’ of their office has changed.  When asked to clarify, the explanation was remarkably similar.  The mood or energy seems off, like a dark cloud had settled over their business.

They both realized that the situation wasn’t caused by their job, it was an accumulation of everything that has been going on in the past few months.  To combat the onset of employee burnout, both owners invested in counseling for their employees.  Not equipment training.  Not sales coaching.  They invested in their personal health.  Seeing their employees struggling, they stepped in to provide the resources to help them.

While our industry has been largely untouched by the ‘isolation’ bug, your employees’ family and personal lives haven’t.  Not being able to see their friends and family is taking an emotional toll on everyone, and it spills into their professional life. The lack of control, whether personal or professional, anxiety over the economy, the political atmosphere, even changes in the weather and amount of sunlight can all affect the attitude of your employees.  An unengaged team member isn’t helping the business, potentially alienating both customers and other employees.

There are numerous signs of burnout, but the three most common and consistent are:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Increased negativity
  • Reduced productivity

It is easy to write these off as another bad day or a difficult personality.  But, for your business and employee’s sake, you need to be proactive.   In our industry, decreased attention to detail can cause increased callbacks, potential injury to your employee, or damage to your customer’s home or business.

Take the time to implement a few best practices to minimize burnout in your business:

Show your employees you value them as an employee:

In a recent survey, 50% of employees said their careers have stalled or even regressed.  Investing in training for your employees has numerous benefits, but training doesn’t have to be expensive.  Mentoring, whether within your company or involving outside resources, can vastly improve morale.  And its beneficial to both parties; asking someone to mentor or share their knowledge with others, who wouldn’t get a boost of confidence from that?  Everyone likes to feel like they have something valuable to contribute.  Investing in their future with the company will also help alleviate feelings of self-doubt.

Show your employees you value them as a person:

Focus on your employees’ well-being.  Encourage them to unplug.   We recently limited our intake of news programming, both on-line and television.  After a few days, I found that I was sleeping better, my anxiety had decreased, and I felt more optimistic in general.  Your employees are taking on additional responsibilities at home while potentially dealing with financial concerns, their families’ health and their children’s education.  Talk with your employees about issues they may be facing.  One company established a message board within their company, where team members can post their needs and offer services; they have high school students providing tutoring, a currently out-of-work spouse who makes meals for purchase, and a forum for asking advice and suggestions.

Stay in touch:

If you have transitioned to a remote or partially remote workforce, staying in touch with your employees has become of even greater importance.  Technology is great for staying connected, but personal interaction is needed as well. If you can’t meet in person, take the time to talk to them regularly.  Not every interaction with your employees need to be business-related.  Yes, there are rules as to what you can discuss, but asking them about their weekend or their favorite sports team isn’t off-limits.

Lead by Example:  

As a leader, “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work.  If you work through meals, do not take breaks, and fail to focus on your personal well-being, your employees will follow.  Limit your communications on weekends, late nights, and vacations.  Take vacation days, and do not feel guilty about taking them.  Your vacation days are earned, and both you and your employees should take them without remorse.

There are many disadvantages of burnout for your business.  But beyond that, there is the human factor of wanting what is best for your employees and their families.  Work to create a healthy culture in your business to deal with and diminish employee burnout.  There is not one single answer, but taking the time to find what works for you and your employees will only benefit your company in the future.