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Employees are burning out at increasing speeds at work. Work-related stress has increased significantly over the last several years. The stress increase is undoubtedly caused by higher expectations at work, increased work hours, and a toxic competitive culture. How can you, as a business owner, develop a healthy competitive culture that motivates workers and allows them to have a good work-life balance?

Burnout is precisely what employers should always be looking to avoid. A burnt-out employee is one who is stressed, possibly depressed, and of course, exhausted from work. As a business owner, it is essential to identify workers who are suffering from this condition, and the only way to do that is to communicate.

Identifying and Communicate

Sally is generally cheery at the office and brings baked cookies every Friday, yet since the three-weekend project you assigned her, she has not been herself. Sally’s suddenly quiet demeanor would be easy to spot and address, but not all employees manifest their signs the same way.

Burnout manifests itself in many ways, even catching some people by surprise. Before they know it, they are exhausted, cranky, unable to go on. You’ll notice a burnt-out employee will start to miss days at work, the quality of their work will decrease, and they may make mistakes they otherwise would not.

When you approach a burnt-out employee about their behavior, be sure to do it carefully as there can be varying reactions. While most will be happy to discuss their exhaustion and find solutions together, others may become angry by the assumption and flat out deny it. Being understanding is a top priority because it opens the door for answers.

Solutions to Burnout

Finding solutions to avoid potential burnout in your employees comes down to thinking proactively. You want to be sure that you can create an environment that is productive and competitive without asking too much of your employees. Below you will find some tested strategies to increase productivity without causing burnout.

Schedule Appropriately 

It can be easy to lose track of scheduling when assigning projects. If you yourself are juggling various projects at a time, you may be inclined to attribute as many to your employees. Everyone works at a different pace, and everyone demands a different level of attention. If you create a schedule based on the needs of your current team and consider the capabilities in each person, soon you will have a productive and competitive environment.

Provide Incentives

Everybody needs incentives; it is just the way that humans work. By pushing performance-based contests, you can have your employees eager to work on the projects you are assigning. A reward system can ease stress because it gives the employee a clear sense of what they are working towards and a goal to be reached. Incentives can help you eliminate burnout at work while harvesting healthy competition.

Communicate Properly

Once again, we return to communication. By leaving your office door open, you are letting your employees know that they can come to you with any concerns they may have. When employees know they can communicate with their supervisor, they are far more likely to work diligently and voice any concerns along the way so that they can be addressed right away. Open and eager communication is an excellent way of fostering a healthy work environment.

Provide Resources

Make work not only fun but also productive by providing your employees with all the tools they need to succeed. Clear outlines, reliable resources, and constant updates can help your team be in the loop of what is happening at the company. When an employee understands the mechanics of the workplace, he or she is less likely to suffer from stress and feel like a more valued part of the process.

A Positive Environment

Last but not least, a positive environment can make a world of difference at work. You and your employees should all have a can-do attitude to succeed. Why is this attitude so important? A can-do attitude is essential because positive thoughts help the brain release endorphins, thus reducing stress and boosting concentration. A group effort can take a team a long way, and it is up to you to make the necessary changes to promote it.

If Burnout Does Happen

Against your best efforts, burnout is still likely to happen. You can’t control how much your employees choose to work outside of the office, so it is inevitable that an overachiever will hit a wall. When this does happen, it is important to approach the situation respectfully and humanely.

Remember that even if you did your best to prevent this, the current situation is what’s important, and they are a human before they are your employee. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about the internal conflict they must feel like an overachiever having to force themselves to take a break.

It probably feels totally wrong and foreign to them, but it is important that you convey that they will perform better after they give themselves a break, and will be even more productive. Once your employees see you taking the steps to care for their colleague like this, they will be comfortable approaching you in the future if it happens to them.

The burnout might come with terrible timing – right before quarter close, the holidays, the beginning of the year – so it would be important at that point to discuss a scaled-back version of their role. A total break might not be feasible immediately, but emphasizing that a break will come soon can give them a light at the end of the tunnel.

Burnout No More

If you follow some of the tips listed here, you will find that harvesting a healthy competitive environment at work is not as difficult as it seems. Everything comes down to finding a balance and managing correctly. Remember that your employees look up to you and seek your guidance. Creating an environment where everyone can thrive is as simple as promoting an open and collaborative space.

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