Woman suffering from burnout

Prevent Employee Burnout With These 10 Questions

Your staff are exhausted. They’re under pressure at work. Deadlines are hurtling towards them. You’ve just been asked if they can take on more responsibility. You’re worried it might tip them over the edge.

You’re not alone. ‘Burnout’ was recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an ‘occupational phenomenon’, in 2019. The Coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed our work-life balance and working environments.

1 in 5 UK workers felt unable to manage pressure and stress levels at work

YouGov Plc – March 2021

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion.

  • Tired or drained most of the time
  • Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated
  • Having a cynical/negative outlook
  • Feeling detached/alone in the world
  • Self-doubt
  • Procrastinating and taking longer to get things done
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Burnout doesn’t go away on it’s own and it could cause more harm if you don’t take action.

46% of workers feel more prone to extreme levels of stress compared with a year ago

YouGov Plc – March 2020

How can I manage staff overwhelm as a leader?

Here are some questions which you can ask your direct reports.

  1. What does good wellbeing look like for you?
  2. How do you feel and behave?
  3. What would others notice about you?
  4. How do you maintain good wellbeing?
  5. Which situations cause you stress?
  6. How can I lessen the impact?
  7. What are the signs that you’re experiencing stress?
  8. How can I tell that it’s all got too much?
  9. What will you do, if you start to experience signs of burnout?
  10. What can I do to help you if I notice you’re feeling overwhelmed?

Good wellbeing

Understanding what good wellbeing looks like, before someone reaches burnout, helps you to support them. For example, if exercise is important to them and you notice they’ve dropped their daily walk, you can mention it and see what’s impacting it.

Burnout early warning signs

If you know what causes your employees stress and how they respond to stress, you can prevent burnout, or spot the early warning signs.

We all have different strengths. For example, how you feel about giving a presentation to a large audience, not having accurate data to inform decision making, or networking, will differ to how someone else feels. What causes you joy may cause them high levels of stress.

By having an awareness of your employees stretch areas you can ensure you’re providing the right support – whether that’s by using the strengths of other team members, or helping them to step out of their comfort zone in a supportive manner.

Burnout support

Help employees to think about what they can do if they experience stress. If you have access to an employee wellbeing programme, or details of charities who may be able to support them you can pass these details on.

In summary, if you hope burnout will resolve itself you may be at risk of causing further harm to employees’ wellbeing and productivity. These questions provide a framework for a supportive discussion with your employees. They enable you to address the underlying causes of burnout and put actions in place to prevent it.

You or your employees may find my ‘Circle of Control’ workbook useful in managing feelings of overwhelm.

If you’d like some help in identifying your employees strengths and stretch areas I offer Clarity4D personality profile reports. I also offer 1-1 coaching, team coaching and a range of workshops. Get in touch to find out more.

I’d love you to join my free Facebook group for leaders. It’s a really supportive community and I pop in regularly to share tips and ideas.

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