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Beyond Burnout: Helping your teams thrive through emotional fitness

Job burnout is real, and there is evidence that the widespread vocational departures during The Great Resignation may also be fueling a “Great Burnout, felt by the workers who haven’t joined the movement.

Employees’ emotional fitness is crucial to job performance, and management should be vigilant for signs of burnout. It’s rarely an isolated problem, and when burnout isn’t addressed, the adverse impacts can reverberate throughout an organization – and the individual. 

What is emotional fitness? 

Emotional fitness is similar to physical fitness in that it connects emotion-based factors to human performance. With emotional fitness, we balance essential needs with our sense of community and purpose. 

Employees feel emotional fitness at work when their employer provides them with job-related necessities, fosters their feelings of purpose and belonging, and offers personal expression and growth opportunities. People who are emotionally fit tend to be able to concentrate more, are resilient, and are effective; they can respond to circumstances without extreme anger or discomfort. 

Still, even emotionally fit individuals feel stress and are susceptible to burnout when their workloads increase substantially, or other internal changes disrupt the scope of their job roles. It’s essential for employers to consider workers’ emotional fitness, monitor for signs of burnout, and have a strategy to address job-related fatigue.

How to identify employee burnout 

Recognizing, and reversing, burnout hinges on awareness, both self-awareness and awareness of others. 

For individuals, burnout indicators may include a sense of disillusionment about going to a job they previously enjoyed.  How can management detect these signs?

Management may see burnout signs in workers that include: 

• Difficulty concentrating 
• Inconsistent production 
• Behavioral changes toward coworkers 

Is an employee who is typically prone to collaborations suddenly not available to help on projects outside of their own job role? Have you noticed an employee not turn on their camera as much during meetings who typically would have before? Are there deadlines suddenly being missed or emails going days without being answered? These could be signs of burnout.

Understanding burnout factors 

Awareness of job-related emotional fitness extends to understanding the factors that may cause burnout. Changes in job expectations, increased workloads, lack of internal support and dysfunctional workplace relationships are common burnout contributors. 

To help maintain their employees’ emotional fitness, organizations must:

1. Possess an awareness of workers’ workloads and workflows.
2. Be intentional about their workplace culture.  
3. Be purposeful in defending against burnout.

Preventing employee burnout 

Boosting employees’ emotional fitness and preventing burnout may be as simple as making a few minor managerial refinements: 

  • Adjust meeting formats: Instead of gathering around a conference table (safely), take occasional walking meetings; for those connecting with coworkers remotely, devote some digital meeting time to informal and non-work related topics. 

  • Encourage taking mental health days: Workers are often reluctant to ask for time off that isn’t for an established vacation; managers should urge employees to take an occasional day off for themselves. 
  • Monitor and adjust workloads: It’s crucial to retention that hiring leaders communicate workload details and performance expectations upfront, while allowing for circumstances to change. It’s also essential to ensure a fair workload distribution and make workflow or staffing changes accordingly. 
  • Promote a work-life balance: Be transparent about job demands and expectations and be clear about the significance of emotional fitness; advocate or provide access to wellness activities or support or build social activities into your company culture. 
  • Solicit ideas: Ask for feedback from employees, and listen to them. This nurtures the emotional fitness aspects of belonging, purpose and individuality and binds employees to your brand.

    These tips are rooted in workplace culture. And while culture may be difficult to define, it’s critical to employee retention and a business’s long-term success.

  • The importance of workplace culture 

Maintaining company culture is perhaps more critical and more challenging than ever. 

While some companies are returning to the office as the pandemic subsides, others are adhering to remote work or utilizing a hybrid approach. Companies must be intentional about how they convey culture within and outside of their home offices. 

Culture must be visible in every facet of a business, from its recruitment efforts to its organizational structure; from its workplace processes to its performance management; from educational and training opportunities to social events. Culture links employees to their businesses and brands, and a positive culture keeps workers engaged. 

The role of Human Resources 

Human Resources personnel and team management play lead roles in imparting workplace culture and gauging emotional fitness. One way to assess for potential burnout is to survey employees regularly. 

Surveys can provide actionable insights about processes, workloads and culture that, in turn, can guide strategies to improve productivity, retention, and profitability. They further involve employees at a functional level and drive the key emotional fitness factors of belonging and purpose. 

Creating and sustaining a positive company culture in today’s evolving workplace climate requires intent, flexibility and creativity. But investing time and care in developing a strong culture will ultimately lead to emotional fitness among employees and a diminished risk of burnout.

The Re-Imagined Recruitment Playbook

Over the past two years, we have captured hard won lessons learned across thousands of worker hiring engagements by our team of professional recruiters and distilled them into practical ideas that you can start using immediately. The Re-Imagined Recruitment Playbook is a step-by-step guide to help source, screen, select, onboard and retain talent in the New World of Work.

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Beyond Burnout: Helping your teams thrive through emotional fitness

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