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Reignite Your Workforce: Addressing the Root Causes of Burnout

Written by Rachel Boehm, NBC-HWC 

11th Annual Emerging Trends in Wellness Conference Speaker


Employee burnout is a widespread issue that can have severe consequences for organizations, including decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, turnover, mental and physical health problems, poor morale and team conflict, and more. According to a 2021 Gallup study, 15-20% of payroll budgets are lost due to burnout-driven voluntary turnover.

 

Employees who experience true workplace burnout, according to the American Psychological Association, are at a 57% increased risk of an absence greater than two weeks. They are at an 84% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a 40% increased risk of developing hypertension, and are at a 180% increased risk of developing depressive disorders. Addressing burnout is not only crucial for employee well-being but also for the long-term success of any organization.

 

During the Emerging Trends in Wellness Conference, I discussed the six areas of misalignment that plant the seeds for burnout. They can be grouped into three primary factors: individual, work, and organizational factors. By understanding and addressing these root causes, organizations can take proactive steps to reignite their workforce and foster a culture of inclusivity, engagement, well-being, and high performance.

 

Individual Factors

This is where most organizations start and stop. It’s important to support your employees’ individual wellness, however often the resources provided don’t move the needle against burnout. This is because the traditional program offers (e.g. exercise, stress management, mindfulness reminders, and nutrition tips) don’t address the work or the organizational factors.

 

They also send the message that burnout is a personal problem, reinforcing the misconception that something is wrong with the individual if they feel burnt out and they alone can fix it and should know how.

 

Instead, think of interventions targeting individuals as part of a larger burnout prevention program. And be sure also to include solutions that address the other areas of individual well-being including:

  • Financial (offer financial education programs, and consider if you can provide employee discounts/perks, emergency savings funds, tuition reimbursement, or other options)

  • Social (create opportunities that encourage camaraderie and a sense of belonging in the workplace)

  • Purpose (how can their values and purpose be aligned with the organization’s?)

  • Professional development and career progression (think upskilling, mentoring, job shadowing, and succession planning)

 

 

Work Factors

Work factors encompass the job demands, workload, and work distribution that can contribute to burnout.

 

Here are several actionable steps that can address work factors:

 

1. Optimize Workloads: Regularly assess and adjust workloads to ensure they are manageable and aligned with employees' capabilities. Encourage open communication and provide support when needed. The latter should also help identify perceptions that work is unfairly distributed across individuals or teams.

 

2. Increase Autonomy, Decrease Micromanagement: How can you give employees just a bit more control over how, when, or where they get the job done? There are many ways to offer a bit more work flexibility beyond the remote and hybrid solutions we hear about.

 

3. Allow for focused work: Ensure time is respected. Enforce policies that respect other people’s schedules, appointments, and even their “DND” settings. Create space literally and figuratively for employees to do focused work. Constant interruptions and notifications derail productivity, reduce work quality, and contribute to chronic stress.

 

Organizational Factors

Organizational factors refer to the policies, practices, and culture within the organization that can either exacerbate or mitigate burnout. Consider the following actionable tips:

 

1. Unplug…really: Is your culture one of hyperconnectivity? Do employees feel the need to be immediately responsive? Do they stay connected even on their days off (e.g. weekends and PTO)? Are senior leaders sending that message with their own actions even while saying they want employees to unplug?

 

2. Drop the one-size-fits-all: Where can you allow for workplace flexibilities? How can you utilize individual strengths and strengthen weaknesses? How can you eliminate fragmented teams and increase knowledge-sharing?

 

3. Drop the do more with less: The idea that people can do more with less continuously is beyond flawed and is the biggest pebble in the shoe, so to speak. It is not sustainable and eventually, something will give. Instead, how can the organization better prioritize projects and streamline workflows? How can the organization work smarter, not harder?

 

4. Create a culture of recognition: Yes people need to be paid a fair wage for their work. They also need recognition for their contributions. A little goes a long way here.

 

5. Eliminate toxicity: Have a zero-tolerance policy around toxic behaviors. These include bullying, gaslighting, gossip, aggression, taking credit for other people’s work, blaming others for their mistakes, and sabotaging other people’s work.

 

Finally, just as an individual improves their well-being by acting in line with their values, so too does an organization. Organizations thrive when they know their values, “live” their mission and get their teams on board so everyone feels like they are contributing to a shared cause. Communicate these values clearly and consistently, and ensure senior leaders are leading by example.

 

Conclusion

By addressing these root causes of burnout, organizations can create a more supportive and sustainable work environment, leading to increased employee engagement, productivity, health, and overall organizational success.

 

Reigniting your workforce starts with understanding and addressing the root causes of burnout and implementing actionable strategies to address them. This can seem overwhelming given the pressures of day-to-day operations. It can be hard to know where to start and identify who in the organization can and should own a burnout prevention program.

 

By helping you target the contributors to burnout across your organization you can cultivate a thriving and engaged workforce, positioning your organization for long-term success.

 

Contact Rachel via rachel@rachelboehm.com or schedule an exploratory call here.


More about Rachel Boehm, NBC-HWC 

PhD Candidate I/O Psychology 

Rachel Boehm Coaching & Consulting LLC


Rachel Boehm is an executive health coach and business psychologist who supports 

business leaders in burnout prevention and recovery for themselves or their 

organization. After confronting and overcoming her own challenges with burnout, 

imposter syndrome, sacrificing her health to get the job done, and perfectionism, Rachel translated her experience into a successful business, finally pursuing her lifelong interest in behavior, health, and organizational sciences. 

 

 Today, Rachel helps high-performing business leaders overcome burnout through energy management, improved health and relationships, and stronger boundaries by blending legit science with enough sass to keep it real. As a business psychologist, she works with businesses to implement employee wellness programs and leads workshops to increase employee retention, performance, engagement, and team morale. 

 

Rachel is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology and a nationally board-certified health and wellness coach. She has also earned a Certificate of Appreciation from the U.S. State Department’s Medical Bureau for seven consecutive years.  

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