Work Smarter, Not Harder: 4 Simple Steps to Combat Exhaustion and Burnout

A stressed out employee combats burnout

There are times in one’s career where workload and job demand put so much pressure on us that we begin to wonder how we're going to make it through another day. One task leads to another and there seems to be little time to recharge your batteries before you’re on to the next project on your to-do list. Before you know it, you wonder where the time has gone and why you can’t seem to get things done. No matter how hard you work or how many hours you put in, the workload never seems to subside. This can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion and burnout that impacts a person’s ability to perform at their optimal level. 

Exhaustion and burnout are a lot like a car on a long journey that is running on empty. You want to get to your destination, but you only have fumes left in the tank. This is what many people are dealing with in organizations across the globe. Employees want to do a good job, but they are often stuck in unhealthy patterns that lead to exhaustion and burnout. As a result, they do the inevitable and search for a solution that is more sustainable, leading them to seek employment elsewhere.     

Exhaustion and burnout are like a car on a long journey that is running on empty. You want to get to your destination, but you only have fumes left in the tank.

The reality is today’s workforce expects the organization they are working for to recognize and control workload and job demands that exceed human limits. As HR professionals, you have a real opportunity to spot trends that are contributing to job-related strains on your people. To combat exhaustion and burnout in the workplace, apply these four simple steps to help your people work smarter, not harder.   

1. Listen to your people

The first step in assessing exhaustion and burnout is to understand what your employees care about. As HR professionals, it is critical to understand what employees are saying and how they truly feel about the workplace. Understanding the voice of your employees can reveal their true emotions, taking out any assumptions that might be happening with their leaders. This is where mindful artificial intelligence can help you gain real-time insight so you can monitor trends and take the right actions that will have a meaningful impact on your people and the organization.

2. Monitor workload to demand

HR professionals also need to identify what is contributing to exhaustion and burnout. If an organization does not have insights into the amount of work that is required to meet the demands of the business, it will be difficult to identify if employees are working beyond what is reasonably manageable. Monitoring workload to demand provides insights into employees who are working too many hours, who may be experiencing burnout, and potential employees who are at risk of leaving the organization. 

3. Maintain a healthy work-life balance

One of the biggest contributors to exhaustion and burnout is not having a healthy balance between your personal and professional life. When the scale is tipped in either direction it can have a negative impact on an employee’s physical and emotional health. HR professionals should evaluate their time-off policies, flexible work schedules, and remote and hybrid work models to ensure that they are providing employees with the right balance to manage events in their personal life, while keeping the business operational.

4. Lead with empathy

Today’s workforce is dealing with many stressors inside and outside of the workplace that can impact the level of exhaustion and burnout an employee may experienceEmployees need their employers to support their overall well-being. This starts with emotionally intelligent leadership, where leaders across the organization are trained on how to demonstrate empathy. Creating standards of effective leadership with an emphasis on empathy and compassion is a great place to start. It is equally important that leaders understand the value of listening to their people and have the right tools in place to keep a pulse on what is happening in their departments. Leveraging modern technology can help leaders better identify areas that are impacting burnout and fatigue and proactively monitor employees who are at risk of leaving the organization, so they can put their efforts in the right places. When empathic leadership is put into practice, it helps to build trust within your teams, creates an environment that builds collaboration, and ensures your employees that they will be taken care of.

Exhaustion and burnout are a serious matter and how organizations manage workload and job demand can be a deciding factor whether employees choose to work at your organization or not.  In fact, we are living in an era where people have more choices than ever before, and what matters to people is changing. This is making it more important than ever for HR professionals to really understand what is happening with their people and put measures in place to combat employee exhaustion and burnout in the workplace. When HR professionals put their people at the center of their business strategy, they create a standout organizational culture that shows people you care about them as individuals.

Check out our Competing in an Era of Choice eBook to learn more about how your organization can put people at the center of your business strategy and give your organization a competitive edge.

Teresa Smith recently contributed a story on caring for your mental well-being.