We all know the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work. Since we’ve come out of lockdowns, the world of work has been in flux, with many businesses still trying to find the right balance of hybrid work.
The result? Some employees are suffering from burnout. But while that may be the case, managers aren’t helpless to the situation, with Cayla Dengate, Careers Expert at LinkedIn, saying that leaders in a business can have a significant impact on employee burnout because they shape what the day-to-day looks like for their staff.
“Our research found that the top priorities for job seekers were flexibility, job security and work-life balance,” says Dengate. “So, it’s clear Aussies care the most about having the freedom to choose what work set-up works for them, knowing their role will be protected no matter what, and a clear separation of work and home life.”
But though that’s the case, LinkedIn research also shows almost three-quarters (73%) of business leaders say they prefer employees to work from the office and shun working from home. As such, companies that pull back flexible working, as well as other areas such as learning, risk a demotivated workforce and a widening skills gap, which can lead to accelerated employee attrition, says Dengate.
“This talent drain, often of your best people, can have a negative effect on long-term business performance,” she says. “Helping employees get back on track should be a priority, otherwise a business will run the risk of employees leaving the company altogether and it will signal to other staff their health isn’t important.”
But it’s also worth noting that burnout isn’t the result of just one thing, Dengate says. It’s from a combination of factors, so striking the right balance is important for managers.
Knowing if an employee is burnt out can be tricky, especially if that person isn’t open to sharing or discussing how they’re feeling. Burnout can show up as excessive stress, fatigue, sadness, anger, irritability, alcohol or substance misuse and vulnerability to illnesses.
“Showing empathy and support towards any staff members struggling with the effects of burnout costs nothing and will mean the world to them,” says Dengate.
“Many businesses have mental health programs and support networks, so leaning into them can also be smart. If an employer has burnt out employees, they must look to pinpoint what causes this and question whether they have overloaded their staff with too much work or expected too much from them.”
Managers should encourage rest outside of work, says Dengate. For many organisations, a top-down approach can be good, with managers leading from the front and ensure they set a standard in terms of respecting work hours.
If employees are again and again having to ask their company for help with burnout, it’s failing its people, says Dengate. “In this post-pandemic time, employers should be taking care of their employees’ needs,” she says.
“We know from our latest research, there is a growing disconnect between what employees and what companies are prepared to offer,” she says. “Unfortunately, as hiring slows, the balance of power is shifting back to employers.”
Even with that said, companies still should be offering work-life balance and security, as well as creating opportunities for them to grow, says Dengate. Otherwise, they could run the risk of poor staff retention and a bad reputation among job seekers.