How to avoid having burned out and disengaged employees

February 21, 2017
3 minute read
Last updated October 3, 2019

You say your organization is innovative and flexible, but you’re burning your employees out.

It pays to be a leader, not a boss. Your workplace might promote innovation, but it might be pushing its workers too hard. Today, determination is burned away by in-house processes and sheer fatigue.

Last decade’s motivation-boosting tips won’t work, because today’s workers are not only disengaged, they’re distracted. Targeting workplace burnout isn’t a problem of “how much is too much.” It’s far more complicated than that.

Modern role conflict

More than ever, in-house workers are expected to fill multiple roles. Your sales manager isn’t just a sales manager. Not anymore. Now, they’re a cross-market analyst, a social media strategist, and a digital marketer. Simply put: Your workers are taking on more—and they may not be optimized to do so.

What gives?

Well, mobile-based social media, for one. Today’s workers are unwittingly fatiguing themselves with instant information access. What can you do? Create less role ambiguity. Your workers are hard-wired to answer analytical questions with their smartphones. Having a digital Swiss army knife in your pocket, however, can make you take on Herculean tasks.

The employees have spoken.

Find out why some employees go above and beyond (and why others quit).

Get the report

A need for more social support

In general, your organization should promote a higher degree of social support. Experts believe in-house social influence will be a major determining factor of motivation, discipline, and innovation. Today’s workers are surprisingly social. They just aren’t social in the physical world.

Try incorporating digital feedback. When possible, lead your workers into in-person social meet-ups. If you really want to promote a hands-on, in-person social environment, target them via social media and mobile apps. It’s easier to lead a horse to water when you’re on their turf. No, your workers aren’t farm animals, but they’ll be more receptive to stress-relieving social meet-ups if a digital construct helps them along.

The need for more recognition

Recognition, too, is a vital component of motivation. Stress.org believes workplace-related stress can be boiled down as follows:

  • 46% workload related
  • 20% work-life balance related
  • 6% job security related
  • 28% people related

While, seemingly, cutting down on the “workload” category might help, evidence suggests that company culture may hold the secret to employee motivation. More importantly: Direct recognition can enhance a worker’s motivation at unparalleled rates. That said, a lack of faith in leadership can absolutely contribute to workplace burnout.

The other compensation

Rewarding good behavior is a time-honored tradition. Similarly, penalizing bad behavior is a go-to response to combat workplace fatigue. These methods work, but they’re dwindling in an increasingly fast-paced work environment. To encourage productivity, maximize engagement, and incentivize better work, you’ll need to rework your idea of compensation.

The status quo isn’t about money, anymore. It’s about job benefits, security, and the chance to secure industry advancement.

Today’s workers, by and large, are unmotivated by “restrictive” workplace culture. Rules may be rules, but few companies understand the power of positivity. A pat on the shoulder, a handshake, and direct transparent communication go a long way. Even better: They’re all free.




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