Employee burnout: The financial impact to businesses and how to tackle it
Customers are always at the heart of a business. In fact, company owners, managers and their employees often go out of their way to please and satisfy every client’s needs. There is no hiding that this can be a tiring and demanding process, and it can eventually end up having a detrimental impact on a business' biggest asset: its employees.
Without adequate support and precautions, workers can face burnout. Not only will this put their physical and mental wellbeing to the test, but it can also conceal serious implications for the business itself. Stressed and unhappy employees can be more difficult to manage and -- in the long term -- could have pricey consequences on the company’s finances.
But what are the causes of burnout? What are its consequences? We explore some of the costs of employee burnout and provide some tips to keep this issue at bay.
The financial impact of employee burnout
Workplace wellbeing should be at the forefront of every business agenda. A team with people that are focused and motivated will drive your company to success. However, there are many factors that can put employees’ mental and physical health to the test.
All jobs come with pressures and responsibility, but exposure to excessive stress and unreasonable tasks can pave the way to burnout. This should never be taken lightly, as it can cause severe feelings of exhaustion, detachment and bad mood. What’s more, it can lead to poor decision-making and to the worsening of workers’ overall health. In this respect, it is no surprise that the World Health Organization in 2019 added 'workplace burnout' to its list of mental conditions and diseases.
Employee burnout can be the result of a lack of manager support, unclear communications and messages from superiors, unmanageable workload and unfair treatment during (and after) work hours. As for the latter, the presence of bias, favoritism or mistreatment at work can make it 2.3 times more likely for an employee to experience burnout.
If a worker is feeling overwhelmed, they could soon show signs of cynicism and negativity, and their professional efficiency will start to decrease. But, as well as damaging the mental wellbeing of your employees, burnout can hit the finances of your business too.
First of all, increasing disinterest and disengagement will have a significant impact on the productivity of your company, as workers will have no motivation to grow your business and enhance its income. Furthermore, if an employee is not driven and is overly stressed, there is a chance they will take frequent sick days as a result. Absences cost UK businesses about £7bn every year, whereas employee turnover accounts for a loss of around £8.6bn. Ultimately, if a worker is experiencing burnout in their current workplace, they are likely to leave and seek a new job opportunity.
Poor mental health and unhappy team members cost British employers up to £45bn per year. When considering that more than half (57 percent) of all British workers feel worn out by their jobs, these stats are sadly not too surprising. However, as a business owner or manager, you can tackle these numbers and boost your business’ earnings by following some simple steps.
How to prevent employee burnout
A 2020 study published by Deloitte shows that investing in mental health and taking care of employees’ wellbeing can have a positive influence on your business’s finances. Specifically, it found that you are likely to receive an average return of £5 for every pound you spend on supporting your team.
But how can you achieve this? Here are a few tips on how to actively tackle burnout in your workplace:
- Dissuade employees from overworking -- Long working hours and heavy workload are among the main risks of employee burnout. In fact, there is a strong connection between mental exhaustion and working over 40 hours per week.
Therefore, balancing your people’s tasks and ensuring that they are well distributed around teams will play a crucial role in keeping your employees happy and healthy. You may also want to encourage your workers to disconnect after a certain time, while also reminding them that they can pick up their unfinished tasks in the morning.
- Restore work-life balance -- Another way to suppress burnout is to ensure that your employees are enjoying a good work-life balance. If they are living to work, rather than working to live, you should take action. In this sense, offering a flexible work schedule could be a valuable option.
Explain the importance of dedicating some precious time to their interests, family and friends. Social and 'me' time will uplift their mood and refuel their energy.
- Create a positive work environment -- As a company owner or as a manager, it is your duty to make sure that the atmosphere inside the workplace is both pleasant and positive. Cultivate a relaxed attitude to work, understanding of personal issues and a zero-tolerance policy for any form of unnecessary pressure or intimidation.
A healthy and genuine workplace culture will allow you to keep your team’s happiness and productivity on point and, as a result, your business will develop too.
- Talk, listen and show support -- It is important to always set clear goals and targets. If your team knows what is expected from them, they will embrace their tasks with more confidence and calmness.
Additionally, be open to feedback and invite your team to share their feelings with you. If they are struggling, show them support and work towards a solution that suits you both.
Employee burnout is a recurring issue that should not be underestimated. Not only can it pose a threat to your employees’ physical and mental wellbeing, but it can also affect the finances of your company. With some small precautions, however, you can put a stop to unnecessary exhaustion and promote a pleasant work environment.
Image credit: Lightspring / Shutterstock
Richard Holmes is Director of Wellbeing at private health cover provider, Westfield Health.