27 September 2023

Simple ways to keep burnout at bay

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Dan Schawbel talks to an expert on workplace wellbeing who cites employee recognition policies as a key to avoiding burnout and stress.

I recently interviewed Lauren Spencer, a Senior Consultant at Workhuman, a cloud-based human capital management and employee recognition solutions software provider.

In our conversation, we discussed the connection between employee wellbeing and engagement; ways to boost wellbeing in today’s workplace, and new research on the impact of recognition on burnout.

Lauren also shared how teams can build a collaborative culture, and how employee recognition can help an organisation promote its values.

Workhuman research suggests 40 per cent of employees say their job has had a somewhat negative or extremely negative impact on their mental health in the past six months.

Lauren says regardless of where employees work, employers have an imperative to take care of their people.

It’s better for the people who work there, and it’s better for business.

When employees feel like they can show up to work as they are without worry of judgment, they are better able to do their best work.

Employee wellbeing is a valuable tool for establishing meaningful connections at work, as well as for improving business metrics including retention, engagement and productivity.

She says the costs of neglecting wellbeing at work are significant for employees and employers alike, so making smarter investments in wellbeing is more important than ever.

“In fact, our research found a global cost of $322 billion in turnover and lost productivity when low wellbeing shows up as employee burnout,” Lauren says.

What are some effective ways to amplify wellbeing among today’s on-site, hybrid, and remote employees?

First and foremost, make smarter investments in wellbeing.

A lot of organisations rushed to put together programs and benefits for wellbeing support during the pandemic. It’s time to take a second look: Are they still effective?

If not, leaders should reconsider where they’re allocating funds. One area of opportunity could be in recognition.

Organisational dollars will likely go further here than in the one-off projects they were previously funding.

For a recognition program to make a measurable impact on wellbeing, it needs to be strategic.

Peer-to-peer recognition can amplify wellbeing at work because everyone can give and receive appreciation.

Next, upskill your managers — they can make or break an employee’s success at an organisation.

To ensure employees are getting the coaching, support and value they need to grow, employers should be actively engaging managers in learning and development courses.

Organisations should train managers on the importance of wellbeing in the workplace.

Finally, lead by example. Leaders set the tone for how the entirety of the organisation looks at wellbeing as a strategic driver.

Leaders should participate in volunteer opportunities, encourage employees to make use of mental health resources, and provide psychological safety to show up as their whole selves.

Can you share some new research about the impact of recognition on employee burnout and turnover?

People miss work unexpectedly for many reasons, from physical illness to mental health.

Regardless of the role, those missed days cost large organisations millions of dollars per year.

Employees who are burned out much or all the time don’t bring their best to work — they are 63 per cent more likely to not show up at all and are more than twice as likely to look elsewhere for a job.

Work itself can also negatively affect mental health, with 40 per cent of employees saying their job has had a somewhat negative or extremely negative impact on their mental health in the past six months.

Recognition can play a role in improving this. It can act as a buffer against job stress and enhances multiple aspects of wellbeing.

A new report found: “Employees that get fulfilling employee recognition are up to 90 per cent less likely to report being burned out at work ‘always’ or ‘very often’.”

Not only that, employees who strongly agree that recognition is an important part of their work culture are up to 91 per cent more likely to be thriving than employees in workplaces in which recognition is not important to culture.

What role does employee recognition have in helping a company promote its values, reinforce culture, and make a business impact?

Did you know that organisations that focus on living their corporate values are more profitable?

Companies that have strong core values also have strong cultures. It increases productivity, retention, and employee happiness, to name a few benefits.

The challenge for many organisations is how to make those core values attainable. That’s where recognition comes in.

Social recognition is designed to tie back to core values; it integrates those ideals into employees’ everyday thoughts and actions.

*Dan Schawbel is a bestselling author and Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence, a research and advisory firm helping HR adapt to trends, drive performance and prepare for the future.

This article is part of his Workplace Intelligence Weekly series.

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