Employee burnout pitfalls

There is a fine line between getting the most out of your employees and asking too much. Indeed, there is a time and place for pushing the envelope, such as the end of the quarter, year-end sales goals, or making deliveries for the quarter. Elon Musk is well known for his demanding style and largess goals. A great article in Time Magazine describes employee engagement as engaging smarter vs. engaging harder, using Mr. Musk as an example. On the other hand, Mr. Musk has been criticized for his hard-charging style, which many believe leads to burnout. It’s again a fine line; meeting the quarterly delivery goals at Tesla can mean billions of dollars in stock valuation fluctuation, but it has to be tempered with a massive support system for the employees making it happen.

What is employee burnout?

Employee burnout occurs when employees no longer feel the effort is worth it and struggle to find the motivation to get the job done promptly and sometimes at all. This lack of motivation often happens to top performers who feel like they are always working and no longer valued for their effort. Feeling undervalued can lead to pessimism, lack of energy, and an overall sense of “what am I doing here anymore?”. Burnout typically happens when a company has excellent intent but lacks the support system to keep motivation high and a sense of purpose throughout the employee base.

Top 5 Common pitfalls that lead to employee burnout

1. Never-ending must-have-it-now timelines

Have you ever been in a position that feels like a hamster wheel of “I have to have it now” deadlines? This situation can be expected in roles such as graphic design or proofreading or others that much of the company relies on for various aspects of their jobs. Then you throw the executive team into the mix who like to jump the line and need their projects even sooner, and you have a recipe for burnout. Of course, there is always the project that needs to get fast-tracked, but an employee shouldn’t feel like every project is that way.

2. Lack of employee support systems

Many small companies fall into this pitfall. These companies typically try and do more with less, and understandably so. However, if the company doesn’t have a charismatic enough leader, it can all go bad quickly. In addition, small companies lack the funds to have a proper employee support system, which can be difficult for the employee. Large companies can also fall into this category with a plan that isn’t kept up to date or, in some cases, utilized at all. An employee support system that is functioning correctly will have benefits such as; incentives based on performance, employee recognition programs, mentors to help engage the team, and other benefits that keep engagement high and feedback coming back to executives on time.

3. Unclear guidance

Everyone reading this has probably had a boss that gave you goals that changed daily. Not only can this be annoying, but it can also lead to a feeling of lack of accomplishment. In addition, the never-ending moving target is difficult for anyone to handle.

4. Unattainable goals

Big goals aren’t wrong; they probably don’t belong in the day-to-day for most employees. The day-to-day should consist of plans that can be attained daily, weekly, and monthly. Sometimes adding in a yearly goal makes sense, too – it just depends on the position. Here’s an example of an unattainable goal. In the 90s, when the Internet started to take off, many marketing firms had to switch from traditional marketing methods to Internet strategies. The big challenge was that few people knew how to do this. So when a CEO declares (in the 1990s) that the marketing department’s goal is to OWN the Internet through their marketing initiatives, they announced an unattainable goal. A proper goal probably would have been to understand/identify through research some strategies that the company can use to sell their products through Internet marketing.

5. Compensation that doesn’t meet the job requirement

Here’s a pitfall that is all too common. A company hires an employee to do a job, and that employee ends up doing the job of 3 workers combined, two years go by, and they are still making the same salary. Reward your top performers, and they will reward you with loyalty and a job more than well done. Don’t take your employees for granted!

In conclusion, employee burnout is something that can be avoided. Stay in constant contact with your employees and ensure you know how they are doing. When was the last time you asked someone how their kids were doing or how it was going in their position? Be sure to take an interest in their lives – they want to feel appreciated, and they must feel that way to avoid burnout.

Related Resource: 360 Degree Feedback: Your Complete Guide

Related Blog Post: 3 Signs You Have an Employee Retention Problem