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Unhappy business woman

Why employee burnout is not a personal issue

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Employers should take more responsibility for the impact they can have on employees’ mental health. Once executives acknowledge their role in creating workplace stress, they can confront the problem at an organisational level, and reduce the amount of staff members who burn out.

That is according to workplace experts Eric Garton and Michael C. Mankins. In their recently published book Time, Talent and Energy, they argue that companies tend to treat employee burnout as a talent management or personal issue, when it is in fact an organisational challenge.

After looking into companies with high burnout rates, Garton and Mankins identified three organisational practices they have in common: excessive collaboration, weak time management, and overloading the most capable with too much work. Luckily, they didn’t just identify the problem, but also suggest how leaders can address them.

Excessive collaboration

Excessive collaboration is often the result of too many decision makers and too many decision-making nodes. Too many steps in a decision making process will slow the process down, and if most of your company’s upper management seems to spend all their time in meetings with each other, something has to change.

Start by critically assessing the company’s organisational structure with the goals of keeping it as simple as possible. Some hierarchy is crucial to running a successful business, but every decision maker acts as an organisational speedbump, “slowing down the action and stealing organisational time and energy”, the authors say.

Weak time management

When it comes to time management, employees are often left on their own. They’re being pulled in different directions and have little power to say no to tasks, projects, or meetings, even if they feel they’re unnecessary.

The first step to solving this, is to become aware of the problem. Using workplace analytics tools to measure how employee time is spent leaders can identify the places in their organisation where too much time is spent on emails, online collaboration, or in meetings.

Overloading the most capable

The best people are the ones whose knowledge is most in demand, Garton and Mankins state. During their research they found the more talented a manager is, the more time they will be forced to spend on meetings, emails, and other electronic communications, as their good work earns them more responsibility.

Again using workplace analytics tools, leaders can measure the excess demands on the time of their best managers, and redesign the workflow to alleviate pressure.

ALSO READ: Is employee burnout affecting your workforce turnover rate?

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