So many people don’t like their jobs, that “workin’ for the weekend” isn’t just an ‘80s hit song. It’s a sad fact of life for a lot of workers.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 70% of people in the United States hate their jobs. It’s 85% worldwide. Lack of purpose and fulfillment from engaging and supportive jobs, work environments, and employers has caused a worldwide employee engagement crisis and leads to burnout.
Fortunately, there’s a solution — coaching cures burnout.
What Causes Workplace Burnout?
One of the biggest drivers of employee burnout is a lack of leadership support and recognition, followed closely by unrealistic deadlines and results expectations.
And employee passion for work does not protect against burnout, with more than half of employees surveyed saying they have many positive associations with their work but still feel a lot of stress because of work.
Workers report that there is little in the way of assistance from employers for relentless stress, with 21% saying their companies do nothing about stress and burnout.
According to Gallup, “burnout is strongly influenced by how employees are managed” and comes with substantial organizational costs, including more employee sick days, more employees looking to leave their jobs, and less interest in performance and goals.
Why Should Managers Care About Burnout?
A 2015 Columbia University study shows that 18% of supervisors and managers report symptoms of depression, with middle managers prone to both depression and anxiety. The authors of the study speculate it’s because although they have higher pay, authority, and better positions, middle managers get “flak from above and below.”
So why should managers care about employee burnout and stress when they are stressed themselves?
Workplace Stress Doesn’t Just Affect Employees
It impacts the business as a whole. Stress causes more missed days, lower productivity, higher turnover, more worker’s compensation claims, and more medical insurance expenses.
It can also impact recruiting and employer reputation. Employer review websites like Glassdoor enable current and former employees to publicly and anonymously discuss all aspects of working for a company, good and bad, increasing the potential risk to revenue and reputation.
Stressed Employees Leave Jobs
Deloitte’s Workplace Burnout Survey found that almost half of millennials have left a job because of burnout. Employees noted that their employers do little about stress, with the majority saying their employers do nothing at all about it.
Stressed Employees Are Less Productive
Stressed-out employees are more prone to errors, less focused, and more likely to rush through projects without giving them adequate time and attention.
Stressed Employees Miss More Work
The negative physical effects of stress can include headaches, depression, risk of heart attack and high blood pressure, and problems sleeping — to name a few.
Workplace health and safety figures show more than 15 million working days were lost from 2017 to 2018 due to work-related stress, up from 12.5 million the previous year.
How to Reduce Employee Stress and Burnout With Coaching
How managers treat their employees is a key factor in burnout on the job. Great coaches can help reduce burnout by:
- Fully supporting employees with clear expectations
- Removing barriers to productivity
- Establishing collaboration
When coaches do these things, they remove stressors, foster positive work experiences, and impact how employees feel about their organizations and their roles in their success. The following effective and supportive coaching tactics prevent burnout and protect workforce engagement and productivity.
Prioritize well-being by offering personal development tools and encouraging renewal activities like walking meetings, while also planning buffer time for reasonable project completion. When one employee feels calm, positive, and confident, it tends to rub off on other team members too.
Loosen Work Ties
Too much focus on work affects productivity, creativity, and well-being. An “always on” mentality is a dangerous recipe for workplace stress since it fails to account for recovery time. It’s an unsustainable mindset.
Encouraging and modeling the practice of disconnecting from work gives employees breathing room and permission to take care of themselves.
Coaches don’t just make decisions, direct work, give instructions, and hold employees accountable. They discuss solutions, ask questions and actively listen to the answers, hold meaningful two-way conversations, and instill ownership in their team members. In other words, they provide guidance and support — not decisions, answers, and directives.
When coaches prioritize genuine discussions and ongoing feedback, employees feel supported and are much less likely to become burned out.
When coaches encourage teamwork instead of competition, employees get an additional level of support from co-workers. With teamwork, employees gain camaraderie; insight from co-workers closely involved with the same tasks, timelines, and responsibilities; and someone who can listen to problems.
Examples include pairing up employees for training, asking for specific collaboration at meetings, and regularly sharing ideas and suggestions for advancing the project.
By actively asking for ideas and input from all employees, managers give a strong message of inclusion, support, respect, and collaboration and dispel competition, favoritism, and jealousy. Examples include something as simple as a weekly email request for input from everyone in a department or team, or a group suggestion box.
Connect Work to a Purpose
Connecting the work to the company mission or vision gives it purpose, makes employees feel more in tune with goals and results, and creates a buffer during difficult tasks and stressful projects.
Examples are discussing the job and the company goals at staff meetings or in individual check-ins or recognizing team or department accomplishments as they relate to overall goals or mission.
Use Strengths-Based Feedback and Development
Valuing employee strengths, investing in employee development, and giving them the opportunity to do what they do best creates a supportive environment rather than a daily grind.
Examples include identifying and supporting employees' strengths and interests while offering training for areas where they need assistance.
Coaching Holds the Key to Reducing Workplace Stress
Managers who are coaches rather than just bosses play a key role in reducing employee stress and burnout. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of building a coaching culture is minimizing or eliminating burnout.
It’s worth noting that managers can experience burnout too and have the same needs to be heard, feel supported, contribute in a meaningful way, and have opportunities to learn and grow. Like employees, managers should receive ongoing coaching and support to lower the risk of burnout at the management level.
Ready to learn how to become a great coach? This eBook offers tips to keep employees happy and managers from becoming overwhelmed. While written specifically for onboarding new managers, the insights apply to any manager struggling to implement their coaching skills.