Running your own company and motivating your employees isn’t easy, and you could easily spend half your day on how to increase employee engagement. You don’t need that. You want to be able to improve your business, to lead it forward. You can’t spend time just maintaining the basics.
If you aren’t the CEO, but it is your role within the company to keep employees engaged with their work and motivated, you will also be seeking tools and strategies. Engagement goes beyond just compensation, and although the would help, the fact is that employees who like their jobs, who are active and alert, will always accomplish far more throughout the week than unmotivated employees. Moreover, they will feel more fulfilled, based on .
In this article, we provide expert advice on how to engage with your workforce and deliver the best possible results to take your business farther than you could have imagined.
It can be difficult to identify employee burnout, as the person concerned might try to hide it, especially from someone like yourself who is in management or who owns the company. However, there are several potential warning signs to watch out for.
- If your employees are tuned out, they will be listless. While they won’t be unfriendly or hostile, they probably won’t engage with you or their coworkers much.
- They will put in fewer hours and be generally less productive.
- Off-hand comments can be a big clue! Don’t just listen for content, but tone and repetition. One joke about looking for a new job might just be a joke, but if the tone feels “off,” and the joke is made multiple times, this could be a burned-out employee.
- They take more frequent sick days, mental health days, or family days.
- They don’t attend office functions like Christmas parties.
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Of course, it’s a lot easier to find out if an employee is burned out and getting bored if you have good communication with your employees already. It’s always good to communicate clearly.
Let’s say you’re pretty sure one or more staff members are tuned out. What then?
Start with the cause.
What Makes an Employee Tune Out?
A disaffected employee could come from any number of places, but there are some primary causes that you should carefully consider:
Any one of these problems can lead to employee burnout. Let’s look briefly at each and supply some countermeasures for you to employ.
The employee does not think the company stands for anything or does not see their own values reflected in the company’s ideals. Not every company has easy access to a “purpose,” so it can be tough to combat this one. After all, if you are in charge of a sales department for a cell phone company, how can you show your employees that the company has synchronous values to their own?
A Model Place to Work – Give Your Company Ideals
If your company had no goals, you’d never get anywhere. If your company has no ideals, you cannot inspire your workforce. If you want to increase employee engagement, a company that stands for something – something moral or aimed at a higher good – will definitely make them feel like they are part of something they believe in.
Presumably you have a mission statement and/or a vision statement. That’s good – you’re on the right track – but often such statements simply push together buzzwords or platitudes. Instead, a vision statement should give you something to work toward in a more metaphysical sense. This isn’t necessarily a goal like “To Become the Number One Paper Towel Company in the Country!” but perhaps something about how you want your company to be friendly and accommodating.
You need to show your ideals and the ideals of the company through action more so than words. If you have a vision statement but behave no differently than any other office, factory, or workplace, your employees will not perceive the company as different.
Your ideals don’t need to be global. They don’t need to be Utopian. But they do need to be palpable. This could be as simple as starting a specific program to reduce waste or your company’s carbon footprint, for example, to a minimal level that surpasses requirements and can serve as a model in your community or industry. Tangible evidence of ideals makes employees take note of your values.
What Are the Best Values to Have?
Don’t second-guess this one. You don’t have to find out the “best” values, just select values that you believe in. If you curate your values from charts, surveys, and statistics, or if you glean them from an article like this one, frankly, you will probably just come across as disingenuous, which isn’t going to help at all.
Think about causes and ideals that you believe in and have your company work toward goals related to those values. Be sure to pick something concrete, however. If you profess something very abstract like “love,” for instance, it will be difficult to make an actionable item based on that belief. If, however, you support something like environmentalism, animal rights, accountability, or education, you could start initiatives along those lines or join existing projects as a sponsor or partner.
There are lots of ways you can get involved, too:
Pick something and embark on it as a company, but crucially, don’t obligate your employees to help out. Just make it known that the company will be participating and that all are welcome to join.
Giving employees a reason to believe that the company is doing good in the world will make them want to support the company. Make sure your company is responsible in its business practices, as well. Finally, transparency will go a long way toward engendering trust in your staff.
It’s essential to provide clear job descriptions. Some employees may be confused about what they need to do, what their goals are, or what the long-term strategies are for the company. If you provide a list of tasks to accomplish and an end goal, it’s easier for the employee to embark than if they have no known end goal and have to keep returning to a supervisor to ask, “What’s next?” Similarly, sharing the company’s intentions helps employees align their actions with those objectives.
We can’t say it enough: open communication solves a host of problems. The clearer you are with your employees, the better. Furthermore, you will find that your employees are always crystal clear with their responsibilities if you are approachable for any questions any time. Never shoot down, criticize, or even roll your eyes or sigh if an employee asks you any questions. Even if they’ve asked before, remember that it’s better to ask ten times than pretend they know what’s going on for fear of reprisals.
Burnout can occur if an employee feels like they are not valued or treated as just another resource for the company’s use. Likewise, other problems with engagement might occur if they feel smothered, or if they feel like lines are blurred between themselves and the company – if their work–life balance is off, or if one is intruding upon the other.
What Kind of Relationship Do Your Employees Have with Your Company?
It’s a common problem that employees think of their job as something that they have to do before clocking out and going home. They look forward to the weekend, socialize when forced, and treat the company as a need, not a want. They look to coworkers and managers like they are part of the office, not part of their social circles.
Picture a place to work where every employee looks forward to getting there, doesn’t mind working on the weekend, and happily joins in at all company events – maybe even volunteering to help with setup or tear-down. This person considers their colleagues to be friends, and never makes the distinction of “work friend” because the distinction is irrelevant.
That’s the kind of place you want to work, whether you’re in management or are part of the workforce. The question is how to get there.
First, you need to establish and build a great relationship with your employees. If you treat them like employees, that’s how they’ll respond. You need to treat them better than that. We aren’t saying you’re treating anybody badly, but give some thought to how you conduct yourself around your employees and how you communicate with them.
Here’s a quick list of considerations:
- Do you say hello in the mornings when you first see your employees?
- When you ask, “How are you?” do you listen for a real answer?
- When listening, how do you respond?
- How do you approach your employees while they are working?
- Do you contact your employees during off-hours for more work? Do you ever contact them just to check in?
- When you give feedback, is it encouraging, critical, or a combination of both?
- Do you allow your employees time to respond to feedback and criticism?
- When they respond, and if they are critical of you, do you make excuses, or listen openly?
- Are there always clear, open channels of communication?
- Do they feel heard?
- If they approach you with a problem, do you help them solve it, or are they made to feel like admitting the problem was an error in and of itself?
- How many details can you remember about each employee, their personal lives, and their families? For instance, can you name some of your employee’s closest relatives? Would you recognize them?
Creating a relationship with your employees will mean adopting humility and wielding your authority reasonably, without having to prove you’re “the boss.” The main theme of the list, if it has one, is just being more personable and genuine with your employees. You don’t have to share every secret you’ve ever held, but you should make sure that they feel comfortable talking to you. A non-judgmental attitude is key, and there should be clear channels for feedback and honest communication which will not punish or hinder the employee who speaks up in any way.
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The Importance of Boundaries, and When to Blur Those Lines
Work life and personal life are separate for a reason. Make sure you don’t overstep boundaries that employees have in place. For example, if they have a social media profile on one platform that they retain entirely for their personal life, don’t try to intrude on it. Don’t make it – or try to make it – a “work thing.” At best, they will turn down the request politely, but at worst, they might resent the request, or even acquiesce, thinking that they have to, and wind up really unhappy with the new arrangement. By respecting boundaries, you create a healthy division of work and life, thereby conveying respect for your employees as whole people.
Can you ever blur those lines? Yes. But lines can only be blurred as an invitation, not as an invasion. You can invite employees to events – and social events at the office or through the business can strengthen personal relationships – but the important thing is that they are not required and employees don’t feel pressured.
After that, it is up to you to simply get to know your employees, take a genuine interest in who they are, and remember things like pet names and hobbies as best you can.
Employees don’t want to work if their tasks are boring, repetitive, and aimless. If they feel this way, it is likely due to a lack of challenge in their role. While you can burn out an employee by working them too hard, it’s also possible to give them too little to do. Often, this has less to do with the volume of work and more to do with the interest, challenge, and importance or value of the work.
Menial tasks will wear anybody down and make them feel disrespected or undervalued. Think about it: if all you did was pick up discarded wrappers and throw them in the garbage, it would not be long before you became bored. Every employee who is applying themselves, who is eager for the work, should be provided with challenging work and responsibility that will engage them and make them feel needed and wanted.
The employee has been doing the same job for years. Maybe they haven’t been receiving many raises, or promotions, or both. Whatever else is happening with the company, and no matter how hard they work, they just feel like they cannot get ahead. This is a classic problem leading to burnout. Like the need to be challenged, insofar as it pertains to employees feeling valued for their presence and contributions, advancement opportunities ensure that employees are fairly compensated and feel appreciated.
Compensation Is Key: Amount and Type
Don’t just assume that paying somebody more will make them happy. Yes, more money won’t hurt, but employees also need to be able to envision a future. This type of burnout has an employee feeling stagnant, and like if they don’t make a move, they’ll never get anywhere. Consequently, you should try to help them move forward.
- Raises are obvious, as one way to make an employee feel they have a future at the company.
- Promotion is another obvious item on the list. Giving a person more responsibility is challenging, but without promotion, the employee won’t feel as valued, and they will start to feel used after a while. Advancement is a great way to increase company expertise and job satisfaction.
This could be the company’s fault or that of the employee who volunteers to take on too many hours, but however they arrive there, burnout could simply be physical and mental fatigue – exhaustion at taking on too many tasks.
If this is happening, you need to address how much work employees are given and what should be expected of them. Perhaps have a meeting to discuss this, reduce their workload wherever possible, and consider how your management style might affect them. You also need to consider flexibility on the job as well as your company’s plans for leave, time off, or employee vacations.
Provide a Robust Leave Plan and Flexibility
Ideally, burnout should not be a problem in your company, but you can ward it off by offering frequent breaks on each shift, mental health or family days – without repercussions – and a good-sized block of vacation days.
Flexible hours also help. If the employee has more control over when they work, they can structure their life in a way that makes sense to them. This will prevent burnout by letting them keep their work–life balance on an even keel.
Offering training programs is a great way to compensate an employee, keep them engaged, and make them see a future with your company all at the same time.
BeMo has many programs that we can offer to your employees to help them with their educational goals. We help many students at all stations in life find their way to the institutions and programs of their choice so that they can find their own wonderful futures.
A partnership with BeMo can benefit your company immensely and exponentially as your employees find themselves engaged, compensated, and valued, and you find them more skilled and eager to work.
Avoiding employee burnout is about prevention, not cure. Don’t wait until your workforce is disengaged. Engage them now. While some of these measures – giving raises or promotions – are up to you, others – communication and ongoing workplace education – can be augmented with BeMo’s expert services. We can offer packages tailored to your company, always with our quality control and guaranteed service.
With a careful balance and a willing attitude, we can help you build an engaged, thoughtful workforce and achieve the company of your dreams.
1. Does BeMo really guarantee its services?
2. How can I preemptively take care of burnout?
It’s all about prevention. Don’t wait for symptoms to show up, start engaging with your employees now.
3. What’s the best prevention strategy?
Making an employee feel valued is the best. All options are good, but if you have to use only one, make them feel valued at your company.
4. What if I can’t promote employees?
Let them know that you can’t. Just be honest – it's part of good communication – and tell them that you’ll be promoting internally when positions come up.
5. What if an employee takes the training you provide and then leaves the company?
We know that’s a risk, but if you’ve created a great company with ideals that they believe in and opportunities in terms of promotion, advancement, and raises, why would they leave?
6. Does burnout work itself out?
No. It’s a spiral that gets worse. If an employee tunes out due to temporary personal problems, they might eventually bounce back, but that wasn’t burnout with the job, that was just a hard time. If an employee gets sick of their job, they’ll just dwell on it every time they work.
7. What if the job is boring?
Some jobs are duller than others, we grant you. You can still build in challenges and KPIs to make any job more interesting. Trust that if an employee has found their way to your industry, there’s a reason. If you’re worried about it, just remember communication is key, and ask them directly what made them choose this job. Count on them to be honest with you. Ask what they don’t like. Armed with information, you can accentuate what’s positive about the job, while minimizing the negative.
8. Couldn’t I just ask another company to help instead of you?
Yes, and if you feel that’s best, we don’t want to hold you back. Again, we love our company and its products and services. We love them enough to have confidence that you’ll love them, too, if you give us the shot.