How to Support Overwhelmed Employees

How to Support Overwhelmed Employees

Today’s labor market is more aggressive and competitive than ever before. Organizations demand high performance and excellence in their employees because they are aware that companies that don’t meet clients’ expectations are bound to fail and not survive. This level of demand can work as a motivating force for those that find challenges and ambitious goals exciting and stimulating. However, it can also be a bit of a double-edged sword.

The World Health Organization classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019, with feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from our jobs, and reduced professional efficacy as some of the main ways to identify it.

Feeling overwhelmed at work is not an isolated matter, and you might find it surprising to find out that it also affects top-performing employees. A study carried out by researchers from Yale University, the University of Leipzig, and the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management revealed that one in five engaged employees will face burnout at some point in their careers. In other words, 20% of your best employees might be feeling physically and mentally drained

Addressing this situation and finding solutions to rectify it should be among one of your top priorities as a manager and especially as a leader. There are a few steps you can take to help your team pay more attention to its well-being.

7 Ways to Help Employees Address Overwhelm at Work

  1. Pay More Attention to Effective Communication

More often than not, poor communication is the cause of misunderstandings and frustrations at work. When employees feel the bridge of communication between themselves and the company has not been built properly, they tend to become overwhelmed and anxious. 

Let your employees know they can tell you how they’re feeling.

The fact that burnout is an invisible disease makes it harder to identify and diagnose, which makes it essential for employees to rely on communication to express their concerns and how they’re feeling. 

Make your employees’ lives a bit easier by always keeping the door open. Find ways to let your staff members know they’re always welcome to raise any concerns and start a conversation with you. Stated in another way: make sure they find you approachable. 

Regular performance discussions are a great way to actively show your employees you’re listening to them, and they are a sensational tool in helping to combat employee stress

  1. Give Your Team the Flexibility It Seeks

Did you know that millennials and Gen Z account for over a third of the current workforce in the US? With that percentage rising gradually over the next decade, it becomes imperative to pay more attention to what these generations want and expect from work. FYI, flexibility is always amongst their top requirements. 

Having a flexible working schedule can significantly help employees reduce their levels of stress. Flexibility facilitates finding work-life balance and provides workers with the freedom they often need to achieve their goals.

With nine to five working hours progressively dying out, you might find that more and more of your colleagues prioritize flexibility in the workplace. If your team achieves its goals and its stress levels are under control, is there any reason why you shouldn’t give it the flexibility it needs?

  1. Recognize and Reward Your Employees’ Efforts

Recognition and appreciation matter, as more gratitude means lower stress levels. Showing gratitude can increase a person’s wellness, improve their sleep habits, and lessen stress, among other factors.

Both informal and regular check-ins are key to building trust and engagement. Whether you’re simply saying a “well done” or recognizing one of your employees’ successes with detailed feedback or a monetary incentive, the fact that you’re clearly giving value to their work and accomplishments will have a positive impact on their stress levels. 

Needless to say, you’d also be creating a unique and positive company culture where employees can have ambitious goals without getting stressed out.

  1. Put More Emphasis on Well-being and Workplace Wellness

Encouraging employees to take time off, book a holiday, or invest time in their well-being is as important as motivating them to reach targets. Workplace wellness should become part of any team’s weekly agenda, and it can start by managers simply asking how everyone’s feeling at the start of the week. 

Increasing awareness around how important it is to look after oneself by taking a holiday or exercising should become part of any organization’s culture. Helping your team to make healthy lifestyle choices would not only prevent stress, but it would also have a positive impact on productivity, employee loyalty, and talent retention. 

Companies can provide employees with tools and resources to deal with stress by creating a well-being program. Activities such as yoga, social meetings, weekly massages, or free gym sessions are among workers’ favorite wellness initiatives.

  1. Encourage Employees to Take Time to Organize Their Weekly Agendas

Organization and time management are some of the best ways to help your employees handle stress well. Properly managing their time involves assigning every task on their list to specific blocks of time. 

The fact that the right time is allocated to the right activity will make everyone feel they’re dedicating enough time to all of their different tasks. Encourage your team to take the time to plan out the week ahead so it has a clear understanding of responsibilities and objectives for each day. 

This is especially important for professionals with overstuffed to-do lists, as fixing meetings, having agendas, setting limits on the duration of meetings, and so on will prevent them from feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Stop Expecting Perfection, and Let Your Team Know It 

Stephen Hawking was right when he said that one of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist. Accepting that everyone makes mistakes is one of the golden rules of effective management. Most importantly: let employees know making mistakes is ok.

It’s fundamental that you motivate your team to reach its full potential and work hard, but allowing room for mistakes is also vital. Otherwise, the job can become overwhelming and stressful. Make sure your team knows human errors are expected, and that you can all learn from them and become better professionals thanks to them!

  1. Help Your Team Prioritize Work, and Discourage Them from Multitasking

Picture this: your employee is emailing a client, switching between multiple windows on their computer, talking with a provider over the phone, and trying to find a good playlist for the office on Spotify all at the same time. It’s very likely that some of these tasks — if not all — will not be completed correctly. 

One of the main mistakes many companies make when they advertise a new job role is adding “multitasking” to the list of skills they look for in a professional. Even though finding a person who can manage different projects at the same time is advantageous, you shouldn’t ask anybody in your team to multitask. On the contrary, you should urge them to focus on one important thing at a time. 

Juggling multiple tasks is not only counterproductive, but it can also lower your employees’ job satisfaction, adversely affect memory, and negatively impact their health, which can make them feel overwhelmed. Take the time to have a conversation about the importance of prioritizing tasks and concentrating fully on a task to successfully execute it. 

It’s Time to Offer Your Employees Support!

A happy employee makes a company flourish and grow! As a manager, you should ensure your employees feel you’re listening to them and that you understand their concerns and problems. The more supported and understood they feel, the more loyal they will be to the organization, and the better they will perform. It’s a win-win! 

Stuart Hearn

Stuart Hearn is an HR speaker and writer. He is also the founder and CEO of Clear Review, a performance management software solution that engages employees and teams through more meaningful conversations.

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