5 Tips for Preventing Employee Burnout and Reducing Stress

Burnout has been a serious workplace phenomenon for many years, but some argue that hybrid work environments could be exacerbating the phenomenon. Workers everywhere are feeling overwhelmed and even though there are many job opportunities out there, 53% of managers and almost 50% of employees report that they feel burned out according to new research by Microsoft. Worse yet, the imminent recession has prompted many companies to bring employees back to the office, making them work longer hours each day.

That’s why it’s critical to learn how to prevent employee burnout and disengagement that can negatively impact the workplace. Here’s why burnout happens and how public sector organizations can prevent it.

What Causes Employee Burnout?

Most of us have disengaged or faced burnout from one or more jobs at some point in life. If you think about why you experienced it, you’ll see that employee burnout happens for many reasons. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Job scope creep
  • Unfair treatment at work
  • Long hours and high stress
  • An unmanageable workload
  • Unclear job expectations
  • Poor communication
  • Lack of support from supervisors and managers
  • Limited job advancement
  • Poor management
  • Unreasonable time constraints

It's important for managers to know the telltale signs of burnout. Employee burnout symptoms include:

  • Cynical or critical attitudes
  • Lack of focus
  • Impatience
  • Irritability
  • Physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Missed deadlines
  • Negative body language, such as forced smiles or lack of eye contact
  • Mental and physical health issues

What Public Sector Organizations Can Do to Prevent Burnout?

Although burnout isn’t something you can solve overnight, there are ways public sector agencies can address the issues behind it.

1. Build Resilience at a Team Level

Public sector organizations have robust hierarchies, so you can leverage those to build resilience at the team level. Building resilience at this level is about fostering open communications both ways, modeling and engagement. Managers should encourage employees to share ideas freely without fear of judgment or repercussion, in order to build a work culture that is not overly focused on perfection. It’s also important to train management on communicating and engaging with employees in both hybrid and fully virtual workspaces, as communication in these realms is very different than traditional in-office work environments.

2. Make Well-Being an Important Part of Work Culture

The norms that define work culture dictate how workers experience the workplace and interact with each other. Making well-being a priority gives employees resources to take better care of themselves and lead happier lives. Organizations can provide flexible schedules, more vacation time or better work hours to help employees balance family and work obligations and reduce stress.

3. Provide Employees with Autonomy

It’s important to provide workers with some flexibility in completing tasks and meeting deadlines. Micromanaging stresses employees out and shows a distrust in their abilities to get work done.

Sometimes rigid structure may be necessary, but allowing flexibility wherever possible builds confidence and signals trust in their abilities. Regular check-ins with helpful feedback can eliminate the need to micromanage, which can ultimately help to keep workers on track.

4. Leverage Tools and Technology in the Workplace

More and more employees are requesting hybrid work environments and flexible work schedules. This is incentivizing federal and local agencies to modernize policies and procedures.

Many organizations still use antiquated practices that don’t meet the needs of today’s work environment. Using modern tools and technology can help you increase productivity and save money. This technology can allow employees to conduct virtual meetings with video conferencing and utilize digital collaboration tools that make it easier for teams to share data.

Technology can also help employees handle their family responsibilities while still getting work done from home. Now is the time to consider updating formal policies to reflect virtual and hybrid work environments if you haven’t already.

5. Prioritize Focus Time

While using technology has many benefits, the convenience it brings can also distract workers. Encouraging time for employees to create blocks of time to focus on work without interruption is the key to productivity.

Phone calls, emails and chat notifications can distract even the most efficient employees. A University of California study found that it can take 23 minutes to refocus after interruptions or when switching between unrelated tasks. Managers can play a key role in increasing productivity by only scheduling meetings when necessary. They can also encourage employees to block off focus time on their calendars and only check their email a few times a day.

Key Takeaways

Burnout is becoming more prevalent in hybrid and virtual work environments as the line between work and home life increasingly blurs. It can negatively affect the employee experience and hamper productivity. Fortunately, public sector organizations can take proactive steps to reduce stress in the workplace by training supervisors to recognize burnout in workers and providing resources to help employees avoid this occupational phenomenon.

Burnout is not new to the public sector, but hybrid or virtual work environments can worsen it. Learn how you can reduce stress in your workplace.
5 Tips for Preventing Employee Burnout and Reducing StressDOWNLOAD
Jacques Whitfield

Mr. Whitfield is a seasoned Human Resources Executive with over 25 years of experience in human resources management and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Whitfield is a Principal HR Consultant with CPS HR, where he serves as the DEI Learning and Education Team Lead.

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.