Managing Wellness

The Antidote to Employee Burnout? Self-Care

  • The World Health Organization recently recognized employee burnout as an occupational phenomenon
  • Employees who are burnt out may be less productive and could negatively affect a business's bottom line
  • HR can implement a number of self-care practices in the office, from offering support to providing relaxation opportunities, to prevent employee burnout and increase productivity
Posted by August 5, 2019

When inboxes are flooded, Slack is pinging incessantly and deadlines are looming, employee burnout may not be far behind.

Harvard Business Review reports that 1 in 5 workers is on the verge of burnout. The World Health Organization recently recognized burnout as an occupational phenomenon characterized by exhaustion, feeling negative or cynical about your job, and reduced professional ability.

When employees are burnt out, not only does their health and self-esteem plummet, but so does their productivity. So what can HR do to reduce employees’ workplace stress, prevent burnout and help employees stay productive?

Promote self-care.

You may think self-care requires spa days and golf retreats, but employee self-care is much more general than that (and it doesn’t have to cost much!). In fact, self-care is anything a person can do to support their physical and mental health. Here are six ideas that even small businesses can try to promote self-care and keep employee burnout at bay.

1. Hold 10-Minute Mindfulness Breaks

OK, maybe not everyone is on board with mindfulness practices yet. But meditation has been shown to lower stress, and it can also help you react better to stressors and frustration.

So why not hold an optional daily mindfulness break? With 10 quiet afternoon minutes, employees can decompress and regain their momentum, without totally disrupting their day.

2. Get the Office Outside

Time in nature is like a free healing balm that workplaces tend to overlook. Take staff meetings outside. Eat lunch outdoors on sunny days. Or plan a Friday hike or outdoor activity, such as lunchtime badminton or cornhole, to revitalize your staff.

3. Offer Support

Create a culture of support, where employees view to-do lists as helpful rather than stressful, and where they don’t obsess over reaching inbox zero. Ban eating at desks, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Encourage frequent breaks, and teach your staff to recognize unhealthy email habits and burdensome overcommunication.

4. Encourage Single-Tasking

Research reports that multitasking actually hurts the quality of one’s work. In fact, evidence suggests that people are incapable of paying attention to multiple tasks at the same time. So rather than reward or encourage this frenzied technique, have employees focus solely on their most important tasks, giving them their all.

5. Provide Office Self-Care Opportunities

There’s a reason Silicon Valley companies offer weekly in-house yoga sessions and lunchtime chair massages—their employees benefit from that self-care. And yours can, too! Consider providing regular opportunities for your employees to relax in the office, such as acupuncture or acupressure visits, relaxation breathing sessions, a nap nook or paid time off for volunteering.

6. Model Self-Care

In general, it’s never good to adopt a “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. And with self-care, if you don’t take it seriously, you can’t expect your employees to. Management must downward dog alongside employees. Otherwise, if you’re stressed out, overworked and frenzied, all the yoga in the world won’t help your employees relax and concentrate.

Disengaged, unhealthy employees do not make for productive, happy workplaces. They can actually harm your business’s bottom line. Projects end up taking longer to complete, presenteeism can run rampant, and your business may earn a reputation for being a not-so-great place to work.

So instead of sitting back and watching your employees check out, proactively prevent employee burnout with these tips and best practices. Self-care is a cost-effective method that boosts not only workplace morale, but also productivity.

Looking for more ways to promote wellness in the workplace? Check out United Concordia Dental’s Benefits Bridge for more expert guidance.

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