Focus on Wellbeing to Prevent Employee Burnout | Deloitte US has been saved
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You and your people are tired. COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, and remote schooling, social justice, political divide, economic uncertainty, isolation, social distancing, and the always on’ mentality of living in a digital world are weighing on people. People are tired, and burnout isn’t just an individual problem, it is an organizational one.
Overlooking employee burnout can have a disastrous impact on organizations. Burnout is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a diagnosable condition and can cause feelings of irritation, frustration, cynicism, and emptiness. These feelings drive absenteeism in the workplace as ~63% of employees are more likely to call in sick if they are feeling burnt out1. Further, unproductive time on the job or presenteeism issues may be an even bigger challenge. Studies show presenteeism costs organizations $1.5 trillion USD each year globally2. Additionally, employee burnout negatively impacts an organization’s culture, innovation, and growth capacity. Simply put, organizations cannot afford to ignore burnout.
Barriers to Managing Burnout in the Workplace
In a recent survey of over 125 CEOs developed by Fortune and Deloitte’s Chief Executive program, Employee well-being was identified as the top area where CEOs say their companies have struggled the most during the pandemic, with 90% taking action to support the mental health and employee well-being over the past 6 months3. Often organizations can be well-intentioned in looking to prevent employee burnout, but struggle to take the first step towards making a long-lasting impact. Common barriers to watch out for include:
1. Addressing the tip of the iceberg
Many organizations use engagement surveys to pulse employee well-being and burnout. The data provided can be helpful in identifying concerns or “symptoms”. However, they often lack the depth needed to identify the “root cause” of the issues. Organizations should supplement employee engagement data with network analysis regarding organizational friction, or the effort employees must expend to get their job done. In other words, how hard is it for an employee to navigate their role?
2. Assuming responsibility lies solely with direct managers
Direct managers are an integral part of embedding employee well-being into everyday operations. However, it cannot solely be the obligation of individual managers to implement employee well-being initiatives. To sustain impact, employee well-being needs to be delivered from the organization via an ecosystem of cultural, relational, operational, physical, and virtual measures (check out our Deloitte’s Human Capital 2021 Trends Report for details on all five environments). Organizations have a duty to analyze how individuals collaborate and modify the systems and networks to allow employees to do their job more seamlessly.
3. Believing Well-being is an “Either / Or” proposition
Many organizations agree that employee well-being is a fundamental component of their workforce experience. Yet, there can often be a feeling that prioritizing well-being means leaders must decide between well-being or other business imperatives. Now is the time to utilize your existing collaboration data, challenge ways of working, and proactively correct organizational systems that are dragging employees down
Steps to Move Beyond Burnout
In regards to managing burnout in the workplace, Deloitte’s Human Capital 2021 Trends Report identified the need to integrate employee well-being into the design of work at the individual, team, and organizational levels.
Depending on where your organization is along its well-being journey, this may seem like an overwhelming effort. However, there are key steps that you can take to move the needle to prioritize the employee needs and take meaningful action to foster positive well-being:
1. Cultural: Building well-being into social behaviors and track them
2. Relational: Fostering well-being in relationships among colleagues
3. Physical: Design physical work environments to facilitate well-being
Organizational burnout is here. Workers cannot sustain the pace of the last year, and it is these times of uncertainty that place stress on organizations to make bold moves overnight. Now is the time to utilize your existing collaboration data, challenge ways of working, and proactively correct organizations' systems that are dragging employees down. How bold will you be in battling organizational burnout?
Don leads Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Organizational Design practice, empowering global clients to design their organization structures based on their best human impulses and aspirations to future-proof their businesses. He has more than 15 years of experience in bringing together diverse leaders to co-create new organization governance and decision rights models to quickly foster their teams’ accountability to organize, operate, and behave differently to stay resilient in a fast-paced world. While his OD industry experience spans all sectors and functions, Don is also one of the leaders of Deloitte’s Human Capital Media, Entertainment, and Sports practice.