Employee burnouts are nothing new. They have always been associated with the decline of productivity at work and will remain that way unless you start addressing it.
When the pandemic dawned and work-from-home routines were announced, employees were ecstatic that they would get to work from the comfort of their bed. Managers, on the other hand, were always a bit skeptical. We know you were a bit unsure about remote work and had productivity concerns with your team, but it’s okay, a lot of managers felt the same way.
However, it didn’t take too long for managers to realize that team productivity is going down significantly with remote work – not because of slacking, but because of burnout.
Research indicated that more than 69% of remote workers in the US are experiencing burnout despite working in their preferred remote or hybrid environments. McKinsey backs this claim with its own research stating that at least 49% of people experience burnout. The management consultancy giant also states that this figure is an understatement because burnout employees seldom respond to surveys on the topic.
The point is, employee burnout is a real issue, and you, as a manager, need to identify the core issues causing it. And the first step to solving any problem is to figure out why it is happening.
A lot of things can cause employee burnout, from extra working hours to unrealistic deadlines and performance expectations. Let’s look at a few scenarios behind the increasing employee burnout instances.
#1. “I’ve been working on this PPT since morning; I’ll continue later.”
One thing work-from-home routines have done is that they’ve blurred the line between work and personal life. On a regular workday, when you went home from work, you didn’t really have to open your laptop or roll out more emails.
This has changed in the remote work model. Employees now spend almost an entire day (and some part of the night) working while slipping in some me-time and then going back to work. The key is to know when to stop.
A research study was conducted to find out if employees actually spend more time working in remote settings than they would at a physical workplace. It concluded that remote workers spend three additional hours (on average) while working from home.
However, sitting in front of your desktop doesn’t count as working. Sometimes, employees think they have done a lot of work between that 10 am coffee and lunch break, but there is little to no actual progress.
Why is this an issue?
This may not be an issue in the beginning. But if you’re pausing work in the middle of the day, chances are that you will take a couple of hours before commencing work again. And once you do, you realize that there is more work left undone than you initially thought.
The problem is that employees are unable to identify where most of their time goes during the day, and thus confuse their working time with personal time (and vice versa), especially when they’re on their laptop for most part of the day.
Find out the productivity perks of remote working here: The Undeniable Productivity Perks of Letting Employees Work Remotely
#2. “I have 24 hours to complete this project that would normally take half a month.”
A very common trend at a lot of workplaces today is to burden employees with unrealistic deadlines that not only put them under pressure, but also cause a significant decline in their productivity. This too is among the main causes of burnout.
Unattainable deadlines cause your team to:
- Work with hyperfocus in an attempt to complete the project
- Rush tasks at the cost of risking the quality of the output
- Compromise on their work-life balance (even a day of this imbalance can trigger burnout symptoms)
Sure, the job is often done before the deadline, but that is because your team does it at the expense of their mental and physical well-being. Unrealistic deadlines have made work from home even worse, especially with no recreational and wellness programs in place for employees’ rehabilitation at most workplaces. This has propelled employee burnout to unprecedented levels today.
#3. “You’re working from home – Why do you need a day off?”
Perhaps one of the biggest conundrums of remote work is that employees are already at home “relaxing”, what more do they want? Managers believe that teams working from home can and should deliver projects on time, regardless of how they’re feeling.
“It’s fine, Jane. You can deliver it by evening.”
“It’s okay, Ron. Take medicine and rest for a few hours. Just please make sure you deliver it by tonight.”
Prior to the pandemic, employees had the liberty to take a day off if they felt sick; a legitimate sick day where they could rest and not worry about work.
Remote work has made this difficult. Managers now believe that since employees already have time to relax at home, why do they need to take the ENTIRE day off and put work in jeopardy?
Well, here’s why.
Employees working from home while they’re sick may get the job done today, but it doesn’t work out well in the long run.
A poll by Beamery found out that 65% of the employees in the US feel that working from home while sick adds a lot more pressure to their routines since they are unable to perform tasks as effectively as they would when they’re healthy. Constant pressure of this sort eventually leads to employee burnouts.
Employee Burnouts Can Sting Your Company’s Productivity
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that employee burnout directly impacts your remote team’s productivity.
- With constant stress around work, there comes a point when employees stop giving their best. They start cutting corners, missing critical deadlines, and skipping work.
- All they want is to get by and reach payday without giving much heed to the quality of their work.
- They become more disorganized with time, which adds to the slacking, spiraling down productivity levels faster than you could imagine.
- It also increases employee turnover rates, as most of them would walk out the door the moment they find a better opportunity.
In short, pushing employees towards a point of burnout might extract results in the short term, but it is detrimental to your workplace in the longer run.
How Effective Resource Planning Enables Organizations to Manage Employee Burnout
Here’s how effective resource planning can help you ensure that your team is happy and able to continue performing well in remote environments.
#1. Actual vs. Estimated work capacity
Knowing your team’s work capacity is crucial for project management. What normally happens is that managers don’t factor in employee strengths and working capacity prior to task allocation.
We can say with experience that each team member has a different skill set and thresholds. Your job is to identify these metrics and then assign work accordingly.
timegram is a time and resource management tool which helps keep tabs on the actual output of your team, compare it with the total capacity, and assign tasks in a way that doesn’t lead to employee burnouts.
Learn more about effective team management here: Going Remote? These 4 Tips Will Help Manage Your Team
#2. Gauge performance on the output, not on hours
Since remote work became a norm, managers have begun gauging performance based on the number of hours employees work, instead of the effectiveness of their output.
This is a problem because completing a certain number of hours doesn’t mean that an employee has spent time working throughout the day. It is important to understand that some jobs require a lot of brainstorming, research, and effort. The time and energy invested in this may have led an employee to a potentially award-winning idea for a marketing campaign, but on paper, it just looks like a rough draft of that campaign.
How does this lead to burnout?
If managers start judging employees by their hours, employees start feeling stressed and putting in more hours, eventually leading to burnout.
To avoid this, managers need to identify the right KPIs against each project and assign tasks in a way that evaluates employee performance based on the effectiveness of the output, rather than hours spent. This not only motivates employees to do better work, but also keeps them from potential burnouts down the road.
#3. Track project statuses daily (and adjust accordingly)
As a manager, it is critical for you to track project timelines and make sure your team is on track from the beginning to its completion. It will provide a clearer view of where your team might be lacking. For instance, if one of your team members is unable to complete the assigned task, you’ll immediately be able to see how you need to realign your resources to ensure you don't fall behind schedule on an upcoming deadline.
Daily time tracking and progress report analysis will enable you to identify backlogs, providing you ample time to fix the problem.
The flip side is that if you don’t monitor progress regularly, your team would start pushing itself beyond limits to complete the project in time as the deadline approaches, instead of pacing themselves from the beginning. And we all know what happens when employees push themselves beyond their limits: Burnout!
A good way to start your project planning journey is by assigning internal deadlines for each task (right when the project starts).
Your team will know the projects that are nearing the deadline and will keep them on priority while leaving the less urgent ones for later. This will streamline all the work for your employees, allowing them to complete tasks in time without overburdening themselves and certainly without experiencing burnout.
timegram - Your Savior from Employee Burnout
timegram is a time tracking and resource planning tool designed to reduce burnout and improve productivity across the team. Its easy-to-understand interface, intuitive timelines, and visual planning dashboard allow you to start planning from the get-go.
You can also track:
- Time to compare estimated team capacity with actual outputs
- Billable hours to generate 100% accurate invoices
- Individual performances against business-specific KPIs
Interested in a hands-on experience of timegram? Sign up to timegram today!