Predict employee burnout - WorkTime

August 4, 2023

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10 min read

WorkTime helps predict employee burnout

WorkTime reports offer insights into employee behavior and workload, so you can catch burnout before it becomes an issue.

Burnout at work is the latest scourge of the business world

The latest plague of the business world is not the recession, skill gap, or even the NTFs - it's burnout. Over four million American workers quit their jobs each month in 2022. Burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 23% more likely to end up in the emergency room. Poor mental health is skyrocketing as 70% of the C-suite are considering quitting to search for a job that responds to their mental health and well-being. Burnout syndrome accounts for 8% of all occupational illness cases, and a recent survey from Slack found that 43% of middle managers reported burnout.

WHO officially classified burnout as a medical diagnosis: “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Ignored or unaddressed job burnout can have significant consequences, including:

- Excessive stress

- Fatigue

- Insomnia

- Sadness, anger, or irritability

- Alcohol or substance misuse

- Heart disease

- High blood pressure

- Type 2 diabetes

- Vulnerability to illnesses

Research from Gallup uncovered that working less isn’t enough to reduce stress, improve well-being or prevent burnout. The business world is at a loss: how can you predict or at least spot the early signs of employee burnout? Most current solutions attempting to minimize burnout slide toward decreasing work: limiting access to email, requiring fewer days or fewer hours, and even introducing mandatory vacations.

According to Statista, as of 2023, 27% of U.S. employees work remotely. By 2025 there are expected to be 36.2 million American employees working remotely. Remote jobs now make up 15% of work opportunities in the US, and 16% of U.S. companies are fully remote. If not remote, then hybrid, which went from 13% at the beginning of February 2022 to 24% in May 2022, and by 2023 80% of the companies surveyed are planning to adopt a hybrid work model, with employees spending some of their time working remotely and some of their time working from a physical office.

The key cause of burnout is exhaustion not fixed by vacation or scheduled rest. The research names primary causes of burnout: "Workload overload,” unfair treatment, lack of role clarity, and a lack of support from management. Unless a trained psychologist evaluates your team individually, spotting someone on the verge of burnout becomes tricky.

Using WorkTime reports like you would datasets for big data surveys allows you to spot and predict burnout.

Using employee monitoring to predict and prevent burnout

As a manager, you want what’s best for the people on your team. You want to empower them to do great work while leaving them room to have a life outside the office. A business needs to respect its employees. One of the biggest threats to employee well-being is burnout - feelings of chronic work-related stress, exhaustion, and disillusionment that leave people unable to be present and engaged at work or home. Burnout can come with severe health costs for individuals, and it can disrupt the smooth functioning of a team, leading to reduced productivity and high turnover. Many factors contribute to burnout, but one of them is overwork. When someone on your team logs long hours, it can be a sign they’re in danger of burning out. Employee monitoring can help determine who’s working too much and address the problem. It’s a useful tool for preventing burnout.

Employee monitoring tools, like WorkTime, allow us to align subtle signs of burnout into a “danger of burnout heatmap” and take preventative steps.

Spot team members in danger of burning out

The first step to combat burnout is to think about your team’s weekly capacity. You will always have bad days and busy weeks, but many businesses never stop contemplating what a healthy number of hours looks like in an ideal situation. This number is going to depend on the nature of your business. At WorkTime, we set our team’s capacity at forty hours per week. That’s the amount of time we think allows our team to be most productive while also allowing them to live healthy, fulfilling lives away from work. At first, this might not seem like a lot, but remember that your team’s capacity should be the time people spend working. It doesn’t include lunch, extended coffee breaks, or walks around the block. If someone puts in forty hours of actual work, they spend way more time at work than in a typical nine-to-five, forty-hour work week.

WorkTime makes it easy to see how much your team is working and compare this number to their capacity.

People analytics uses human behavior, relationships, and trait data to make business decisions. They have a “burnout dashboard” that analyzes workload capacity to define how close to burnout you are. According to their data, 60 hours a week puts you over the line. But burnout is a complicated phenomenon that doesn’t hinge on the time spent at the office, computer, or Excel spreadsheets. We’ve conducted thorough research on what data in your employee monitoring tool can signal that your asset is in danger of burnout.

Stop looking for “burned husks of experts” and use top-notch WorkTime tools to clock burnout before it happens.

Improve estimates to stop burnout before it happens

Here are the general concepts HR and medical surveys named as the core of burnout. We’ve attempted to translate them into feasible, trackable figures: 1. An unmanageable workload is the easiest to discern. Employees who strongly agree that they always have too much to do are 2.2 times more likely to say they experience burnout very often or always at work. Even high-performing employees can quickly shift from optimistic to hopeless when they struggle with unmanageable performance goals and expectations due to a lack of workload management. Feeling overworked or having too much to do can take various forms. Some people think about the long hours they work, while others are affected more by the many tasks they have to complete or the difficulty of the work. Gallup analytics show that the number of hours people work each week does matter. The risk of occupational burnout increases greatly when employees exceed an average of 50 hours per week and escalates even more substantially at 60 hours per week. But how people experience their workload has a stronger influence on stress and burnout. For instance, engaged employees with job flexibility tend to work more hours each week than the average employee while reporting higher well-being. But when work feels burdensome, difficult to do well, or endless, employees can feel suffocated, regardless of how few or many hours they work. To notice your teammates are overloaded, look for odd numbers of overtime & working weekends in your employee monitoring reports.

Noticing employees with excessive overtime or colleagues with plenty of working weekends in WorkTime reports can save their minds from burning out.

2. Unfair treatment at work: When employees strongly agree that they are often treated unfairly at work, they are 2.3 times more likely to experience a high level of burnout. Unfair treatment can include workplace issues, from bias, favoritism, and mistreatment by a coworker to inconsistent compensation or corporate policies when employees do not trust their manager, teammates, or executive leadership, and the psychological bond that makes work meaningful breaks. Conversely, when employees are treated fairly and respected, strong relationships form quickly, and employees are more resilient. Which within employee monitoring software translates into increased absenteeism in the office & frequent being late.

Prevent your team from burnout by checking attendance stats within WorkTime reports.

3. Unclear communication from managers, lack of manager support, and lack of understanding of your role. When managers provide employees with the information they need to do their job effectively, work becomes easier and more manageable. Managers should explain role expectations, partnerships, processes, and the impact of the employee's work. When performance expectations and accountability are consistent or clear, employees can become frustrated and exhausted just by trying to figure out what their manager wants. The best managers regularly discuss responsibilities, priorities, performance goals, and expectations with their employees, and they collaborate with their team members to ensure that expectations are clear and aligned with team goals. Great managers proactively share information, ask questions and encourage employees to share their thoughts. Manager support is central to preventing burnout. It provides a psychological buffer so employees know their manager has backup when challenges arise. Supportive managers are there for their team members, listening to their needs and encouraging them. Employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager are about 70% less likely to experience burnout.

Checking if your team is on-board and gets enough managerial support gets easier with WorkTime reports.

In contrast, a negligent, absent, or condescending manager leaves employees feeling uninformed, alone, and defensive. Watch for unreasonable time spent emailing, video-chatting, and old-fashioned chatting with teammates and management to track these signs. It takes just a moment to see these metrics in an employee monitoring WorkTime report, and who knows how much time it takes to realize one of the workers needs to understand his role in your organization fully or needs more support from the manager. 4. Unreasonable time pressure and decreased productivity. When employees say they have enough time to do their work, they are 70% less likely to experience high burnout. Unreasonable deadlines and pressure can create a snowball effect: Employees who miss one deadline fall behind on the next thing they are scheduled to do. Individuals handle time pressure differently. Employees naturally fit for a role tend to work more efficiently and sustain high performance for longer periods. They also have more positive daily work experiences and handle stress more effectively under pressure than employees who do not naturally fit. In contrast, an effective way to create inefficiencies and increase stress is to repeatedly ask someone to do something they're not good at. Unreasonable time constraints often are imposed by people who need to learn how long it takes to deliver high-quality work or great customer service. Leaders must ensure that their role expectations and performance standards are fair and inspire excellence. And when employees step up to work overtime or accomplish tasks under tight deadlines, leaders should recognize their willingness to go the extra mile. With employee monitoring software, these markers could translate into much more transparent terms - deadlines not being met and multiple projects failing. 5. Difficulty concentrating & losing your ability to focus are the worst symptoms of burnout. As you start to feel overwhelmed, sustaining your attention becomes harder, which means your productivity slips, and you’re more likely to work longer and take your work home. It’s a deadly cycle. Our fractured focus often causes you to circle the drain of burnout. But how can you track it in an employee monitoring report? Track employees who started indulging in many idle and unproductive activities during work hours and take multiple short breaks (close to one another.) Once your colleagues have dealt with the worst symptoms of burnout, it’s time to learn how to improve focus and attention so that your team can hit your goals, every member can feel accomplished each day, and not get drawn back into its cycle.

Avoid loss of concentration among your employees by checking WorkTime employee monitoring reports.

6. The final and obvious one is dissatisfaction with work which translates to frequent visits to HR and attempts to find another job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people in 2023 quit more often due to job dissatisfaction and burnout. There’s a separate term - “Job Search Burnout.” Identifying that your employee is “burned out” isn’t always easy. Signs of job search burnout include: - Feeling overwhelmed or stressed by simple tasks. The thought of sending out another resume is overwhelming. - Poor health. This can be physical health or mental health, but poor health can be a sign of job search burnout. Maybe you aren’t sleeping well or getting sick more often. Or, you find yourself in constant anxiety, worried about everyone and everything. - Irritable and frustrated. Are you irritated about other parts of your life besides your job search? Are you upset over little things that never used to bother you? These can be signs of increased stress levels and burnout. - Lack of social interaction. Are you avoiding social interaction because it’s too draining? A lack of social support or avoiding social gatherings can add to your stress. But can you “clock” a job search burnout beforehand? With WorkTime employee monitoring - you can.

Lower the turnover rate and prevent job search burnout by checking employee monitoring reports.

Employee burnout: financial implications

Besides being awful regarding morale and employee well-being, burnout costs businesses tons of money. Leaders are starting to recognize the hidden business costs, like burnout costs. The message is clear: burnout culture leads to employee unhappiness. But the issue is much deeper, causing problems for businesses on various levels. The report states that just some of the costs of poor employee well-being include: - US $20 million of additional lost opportunity for every 10,000 workers due to struggling or suffering employees - 75% of medical costs accrued mostly due to preventable conditions - $322 billion of turnover and lost productivity cost globally due to employee burnout 15% to 20% of total payroll in voluntary turnover costs, on average, due to burnout In sum, Gallup’s research of 112,312 businesses across 96 countries found a strong link between engagement and performance outcomes, such as retention, productivity, safety, and profitability.

Stop losing money because of unmanaged employee burnout by WorkTime employing employee monitoring software to alert you of the danger of burnout in advance.

Turnover & retention costs

First and foremost, employee burnout sabotages workforce retention. According to 95% of HR leaders, turnover is costly for businesses. To put some numbers to this, if an employee’s salary is $50,000, Gallup calculates the replacement cost could be between $25,000 and $100,000 per employee. Therefore, replacing an entry-level agent at $35,000 could cost $17,500. Doing some back-of-the-napkin math, in an organization with 10,000 agents, where 15% suffer from burnout, the expense of such neglect can amount to over $26 million annually, with half the call center at risk. Burnout cost isn’t limited to just turnover, however. Employee burnout is linked to low morale as well. Reduced engagement and motivation directly result in lower productivity. Workers are more likely to have a miscommunication on the job and make mistakes that can cost companies long-term. According to HubSpot, the financial impact of poor work engagement in the United States alone is estimated to be $550B annually. Businesses must ensure the correct support mechanisms are in place to retain staff, lower outgoings, improve productivity, and help employees thrive.

Use WorkTime to help your team thrive - track early signs of fatigue and dissatisfaction to prevent burnout.

Health-related Costs

To understand how burnout can drastically affect healthcare costs, look no further than high-pressure (high burnout risk) industries whose healthcare costs are 50% higher than in other organizations. The impact of workplace stress on mortality and health costs in the U.S. has led to nearly $190 billion in spending each year. Furthermore, burned-out employees are 23% more likely to visit the emergency room. Research estimates that workplace stress accounts for 8% of national healthcare spending. Productivity Loss Costs: Job-related stress contributes to 550 million workdays lost annually, and the WHO estimates that $1 trillion is lost in productivity each year. Additionally, burnout leads to disengaged employees, costing their employer an average of 34% of their annual salary. This doesn’t even consider the more considerable national impact, the cost to GDP. For example, the U.S. economy loses an estimated $500 billion due to workplace stress. Absenteeism and lost productivity due to depression alone cost the U.S. $51 billion annually.

Employee monitoring software must facilitate productivity and trust. Make reports about tracking burnout and preventing loss of efficiency.

Track the early signs and make a burnout strategy

1. The first step is to leverage employee monitoring software to track the early signs of employee burnout. 2. Next is to develop a burnout prevention and employee engagement plan. You’ve already begun with employing. 3. Begin with an extensive employee survey. The results will guide you to the solution. 4. Design and implement a practical job design. Work with team leads and managers to develop job rotations, training and development, and methods for streamlining a profile’s tasks. 5. Perform compensation analysis and devise a competitive pay.

Use WorkTime employee monitoring tools to “clock” the early signs of burnout and address the issue's core before it becomes a problem.

WorkTime “burnout metrics”

Employee burnout is "a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that results from prolonged or excessive stress." Employee burnout can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and high attrition rates. These metrics can help reduce your employees' burnout risk. - Overtime & work overload is the easiest to discern. The risk of burnout becomes critical when employees exceed an average of 50 hours per week. Noticing employees with excessive overtime or colleagues with plenty of working weekends in WorkTime reports can save their minds from burning out. - Absenteeism in an employee monitoring report will signal to managers of unfair treatment at work. Seeing missed days & frequent “late” markers in a WorkTime report gives management an understanding that a colleague may be treated unfairly. Prevent your team from burnout by checking attendance stats within WorkTime reports. - Markers of an employee spending the majority of time e-mailing and chatting with colleagues and managers can signal a need for more support & understanding of your role. Managers provide employees with the information needed to do their job effectively. Great managers proactively share information, ask questions and encourage employees to share their thoughts. Employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager are about 70% less likely to experience burnout. - Unproductive & idle activity in WorkTime reports shows management that the team has difficulty concentrating or losing their ability to focus. Not only are those clear symptoms of burnout, but it also sets a stage for productivity loss. Noticing employees who started watching TV series during work hours may need help to improve their focus and attention.

Don't waste an opportunity for meaningful insides employee monitoring software offers in the middle of a “burnout epidemic.”

A focus on how employees' work changes the organization, industry, or world. It is particularly helpful in preventing or reducing burnout. With these metrics, we must ensure we are not interfering too much with employees' lives. Also, we need to use technology to improve productivity. You can monitor your employees with the WorkTime reports. It is a simple, convenient way to observe work-from-home employees, record their activity, and monitor employee Skype chat conversations and their performance in real-time. The non-invasive employee monitoring is provided even on remote employee desktops. Burnout is a real problem in the workforce and can have serious consequences for employees and businesses. But by monitoring these metrics, you can help reduce the chances of your employees burning out. To keep a check on your workforce, you must use WorkTime and counter the issues of employee burnout. It takes just a moment to see these metrics in an employee monitoring WorkTime report, and who knows how much time it takes to realize one of the workers needs to understand his role in your organization fully or needs more support from the manager.

Get the most useful data out of your employee monitoring reports. Adjust metrics for maximum productivity while tracking burnout signs.

Best practices for preventing & avoiding employee burnout

Best practices for preventing & avoiding employee burnout Our research shows that the best practices of burnout prevention and counteraction also include the following: 1. Training managers: An employee’s direct supervisor significantly impacts the worker's well-being. Many companies are focused on training their leaders to identify burnout and intervene. The top way to prevent burnout is to have strong, well-trained managers who focus on engaging and supporting their team members. Employers must create a true culture of acceptance surrounding mental health and make it safe for employees to discuss it in the workplace. Managers can prevent burnout by connecting employees to tools to manage stress, reassigning projects to ensure employees have a balanced workload, and providing coaching on prioritizing tasks. Worldwide leaders are encouraged to connect with employees in huddles and one-on-ones to identify when burnout might start. An important question to ask in these meetings: “How can I support you?” 2. Measuring outcomes, not time spent: Workers can find a better balance when you change how you manage your workforce, such as rewarding employees for completed projects rather than hours logged. When the business needs to allow, providing employees flexibility can produce better work and a happier, more engaged workforce. By measuring outcomes, we can continue to drive the business forward, focusing on results rather than the time spent getting there. 3. Providing employees with tools to set boundaries: Managers can help team members craft messages for clients when they close their office for a weeklong break. Clients are alerted well before the week off and respect the company’s decision to take a break. Both workforce and the leaders can unplug from demanding, client-facing roles. Without the extra communication to reset expectations for team members and clients, an attempt to give all employees a week off wouldn’t be as successful.

WorkTime employee monitoring software can become the tool that reinforces boundaries for both the employer and employees.

4. Resetting expectations: The pandemic offered plenty of lessons about the causes of burnout, particularly in health care. Employees pushed past their limits to meet a crisis with an expectation of recovery time that has yet to materialize. Psychologists say that many in health care burned through their reserves with the expectation they would be able to stop and “fill up their tanks” later. We never know what is on the other side of a major stressor or if there will be time to stop and recharge, which is why having a preventative approach to mental health can be so important. Practice the coping strategies before the crisis and stressor hits so we have the skills to navigate it without depleting ourselves.

Choose a customizable employee monitoring software so that resetting parameters is seamless and does not become a whole “military operation.”

Foster a mental health-friendly culture

Tackling burnout is more than implementing a well-being program. It’s changing workplace habits, identifying root causes, and utilizing leadership to set the tone. Leadership needs to be the champions of mental health and well-being. Employees who see their manager work through lunch assume they must do the same. This perpetuates a culture of burnout. To provide mental health support, employers need to seek the feedback of their employees to understand what’s creating the stress. Burnout can result from various factors such as an unmanageable workload, no support, an inflexible schedule, lack of expectations and role clarity, unrealistic deadlines, micromanaging, and unfair treatment, to name a few. Here are some ways employers can start to reverse burnout through mental health - Create a mental health strategy and actively promote it to employees - Actively work to mitigate an overwhelming workload - Revisit workplace policies to create more flexibility for employees - Seek out Employee Assistance Program (EAP) details and share them with employees - Encourage employees to take mental health breaks throughout the day at their discretion - Host meditation or yoga sessions for employees to participate in - Empower employees to take control of their schedules and set boundaries - Encourage employees to use their vacation days - Create a safe space for employees to feel comfortable opening up to their manager when they struggle with their workload. - Create open and transparent two-way communication. While this isn’t a definitive list, it’s a start. Managers need to be mindful and observant when employees are at their emotional edge. The worst thing companies can do is seek feedback and ignore it, making excuses or false promises.

WorkTime employee monitoring software is a non-invasive, user-friendly option with an intuitive interface that fosters trust and transparency. What is better for mental health-friendly culture than trust and transparency?

WorkTime employee monitoring software eases the transition to hybrid or remote work mode for businesses of any size and maturity.

Burnout rates are rising

Before the pandemic, just 5% of employed and 7% of unemployed workers said their mental health was poor or very poor. Now, 18% of employed and 27% of unemployed workers say they struggle with mental health issues. The current global burnout crisis results from a domino effect on the workforce. As mentioned, burnout rates were already on the rise before COVID arrived, but during the pandemic, they increased substantially. The pandemic also changed many employees’ attitudes about work, triggering the so-called “Great Resignation.” Burnout cost is the hidden internal tax you pay by not addressing low engagement and employee morale concerns. Because the term “burnout” is tossed around frequently and often misunderstood, it’s important to define it. When accurately measured, 10% to 15% of employees fit the true burnout profile, according to the Healthy Workplaces Center. Over half of the employees are likely negative in one or two dimensions — not burned out, but perhaps on the pathway there. In an organization with 10,000 agents, where 15% suffer from burnout, the expense of such neglect can amount to over $26 million annually.

Keep your entity away from the “epidemic” of burnout by adopting employee monitoring software that allows you to spot early signs of burnout and take action in advance.

Conclusion

Strong leadership and HR can promote work-life balance and reduce employee burnout. Taking care of your people is an investment. It results in lower employee turnover and higher productivity. A healthy office culture is an added advantage. Burnout is a complicated phenomenon. It takes a human connection—honest conversations and empathy—to help people in danger of burning out. But employee monitoring is an important tool that can help you pinpoint the problem. The data you gather from employee monitoring helps surface important questions and gives you insight into elements of your team’s work that you didn’t have before. It also gives individuals the tools they need to take the initiative. Preventing burnout is only one of many reasons to track time. Employee monitoring can help bill your clients, keep your projects profitable, and improve pricing. Plus, it provides data that can change how you manage your team. WorkTime makes employee monitoring painless, so you get the data you need without driving your team crazy. Plus, it turns timesheet data into intuitive visual reports that make it easy to dive into the details of your business. Learn more about WorkTime or start a free, thirty-day trial to test it yourself.

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