How Your Learning and Development Programs Can Protect Against Employee Burnout

5/24/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic brought new levels of stress and uncertainty to workplaces and their teams. But even in times of normal workplace stress, employee burnout can be a real burden for both individual contributors and their organizations.

But burnout is preventable. Here’s what burnout can look like in your teams and how you can use L&D expertise to combat it.

 

The Signs of Burnout

According to the World Health Organization, signs of burnout at work include people feeling:

  • Depleted or exhausted
  • Mentally distant, negative/cynical about their job
  • Less efficient and effective

Work burnout can diminish people’s desires to learn and grow. When employees are experiencing burnout, most of their energy and mental focus is taken up by basic tasks, taking a toll of the ability to think creatively, strategically, or proactively.

 

Impact of Burnout on Businesses

Burnout is a real problem for businesses. Disengaged, stressed out employees can affect their employers' success through:

  • Expensive health issues: The U.S. government spends $125 billion to $190 billion annually to cover healthcare costs related to psychological and physical problems related to burnout. Employees with burnout take more sick days and are more likely to engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms, like drinking, smoking, and binge eating, that drive up employer health insurance premiums.
  • High turnover rate: Businesses lose good talent – and incur expensive replacement costs – when employees feel like their employer doesn’t care about their wellbeing or work-life balance.
  • Decreased productivity: Work quality and output invariably suffer when an employee is suffering from burnout. Their energy and focus are both low, resulting in reduced engagement and a higher likelihood of missing important details or deadlines.

How to Use L&D to Prevent Employee Burnout

Effective learning and development initiatives and training efforts can support your workforce and defend against burnout. Here’s how:

  • Share stress management tips: Managing stress can be taught. Training, learning, and development are all about gathering information, sharing facts, and gaining knowledge. This can be as simple as a tip sheet or checklist shared on the intranet or a more involved presentation or a how-to video.
  • Train management to lead well: Micromanaging, poor time management, and disjointed communication from managers can lead to employee burnout over time. Strong leadership training can prevent managers from actively stressing out their teams. It can also help them learn empathy and better listening skills, which will enable better relationships between managers and their employees.
  • Create strong diversity and inclusion programs: Employees who feel marginalized against, left out, or not heard can quickly burn out and even leave organizations. Creating an inclusive, thoughtful culture can make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and all employees are valued and respected.
  • Train for creative solutions: L&D leaders and HR departments can help managers create flexible solutions that allow for greater worker autonomy and balance. This includes the ability to work from home – and the necessary training that goes along with setting up productive remote environments – as well as other solutions, like how to conduct walking meetings and increase employee engagement.
  • Cross-train to give employees a break: If only one team member is trained on a daily or weekly task, they’re less likely to take time off for fear of letting down the team or creating a bottleneck in a project. When team members are cross-trained on various responsibilities, it’s easier for people to take time off as needed, which is crucial in preventing burnout.

Our expert teams have created training and learning solutions that consistently lead to more engaged, productive, higher-performing employees. Get in touch to discuss the solutions that can support your business today.

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