In stressful times, your company’s star performers can feel overwhelmed, anxious, disengaged, even burned out. When this happens, their performance suffers and their mood sours. Their negative behavior can affect the attitude of their whole team, leading to departures and more problems. In a recent survey, 95% of HR leaders said employee burnout is "sabotaging workforce retention." (Source: Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace).
In our recent webinar "Rock star to rock bottom - Preventing employee burnout in stressful times," we examined employee burnout from a mental health perspective, addressed burnout’s symptoms and underlying causes, and offered strategies for addressing and avoiding this common yet challenging condition. As a guide to managers and HR professionals, we’ve summarized our findings into a series of PDF checklists outlining common causes of stress and anxiety and recommendations for reducing stress and improving employee engagement. Here are a few key items from the first of these lists, a guide for managers on "Warning Signs of Employee Burnout."
They have become irritable or impatient with co-workers, vendors, customers, and clients. Just months ago, your "rock star" employee was highly engaged, dedicated and extremely productive, they were positive, charismatic, and easy to get along with. But recently you’ve noticed their mood changing and a slight decline in their performance. In their communications and body language, they come across as defensive, abrupt, even angry at times. In meetings and one-on-ones they seem distracted and impatient, like they’d rather be somewhere else.
They don’t seem to derive satisfaction from their achievements. After a big win—landing an account, shipping a project, making a sale—everyone seems happy but the employee behind the success. It’s almost heartbreaking that, as you stop to congratulate and thank them for their hard work and dedication, they will shrug and act as if they had nothing to do with it. They’re so focused on tackling the next big challenge that they fail to take time out to celebrate their amazing achievements.
They complain of not sleeping well. Everybody has a rough night once in a while. But if your star employee frequently comes in late, yawns or nods off in meetings, or adopts a distant, sleepy stare, there could be greater problems to consider. Insomnia is a symptom of anxiety, which is a major contributor to burnout. In stressful times, especially during a national or global crisis, anxiety is almost unavoidable, and it can make employee burnout even worse.