How Learning and Development Help Preventing Burnout in the Workplace
The article has been co-edited by Anouk de Jong, Power Skill Owner & Trainer – Resilience
Feelings of structural stress and burnout are some of the most pressing organizational problems of our time. The effects on employees are profound, both on an emotional, mental, and physical level – and it’s a massive problem for your company’s bottom line too. Not only is it costly on many levels, but it also leads to skyrocketing resignation rates, lower productivity, and a loss of motivation. In other words, dealing with employee burnout requires HR leaders to take action. In this article, we’ll discuss how creating a culture of learning prevents burnout, and helps build team resilience and a growth mindset within teams, which leads to a healthier work-life balance.
- Intro: On the Road to Burnout
- What is Burnout Exactly?
- Stress at Work: The Numbers Speak for Themselves
- Preventing Burnout with Training, Learning & Development
- Innovative Solutions for Burnout Prevention
1. Intro: On the Road to Burnout
Everybody can have a bad day at work sometimes, and there’s nothing wrong with a certain amount of positive stress every now and then – it can enhance somebody’s problem-solving skills, sharpen their focus, boost creativity, and encourage them to think outside the box, which in turn can lead to innovative solutions and ideas.
But when your employees structurally feel unmotivated, exhausted, and disconnected, and don’t allow themselves to recharge from stressful situations at work, they might be on the road to burnout. It happens more often than you think: the modern workplace and the world we live in are undeniably complex, high-demanding, and fast-paced, which is a source of stress for many people. And when this stress accumulates, the likelihood of burnout significantly increases.
As a result of burnout, 68% of employees are less likely to stay at their organizations
Piers Hudson, HR Research Leader at Gartner
A modern workplace phenomenon?
For a long time, burnout was a somewhat blurry concept. Scientists and health experts just couldn’t agree on a clear consensus. Was it a medical condition? Or just a modern workplace phenomenon? Making it even worse, quite a number of business leaders had some deeply held misconceptions about burnout in the past: if their employees were overwhelmed, they probably just weren’t fit for the job or industry they worked in. As a result, many people suffering from burnout felt their employers did not take them seriously. They felt like they were blamed for not being able to cope with stress, unfit for the position they were holding, or just having a fragile personality. The solutions offered weren’t great either: overworked employees were told to take some days off, embark on a mindfulness course, or do some meditation – and off they went, left to their own devices. This a classic example of symptom control, instead of getting to the root cause of the problem.
Burnout can affect anyone
Luckily, things have changed. Burnout is now recognized as a serious problem that can affect anyone, regardless of their occupation, industry, character, or personal situation at home. It’s, in fact, one of the most widely discussed mental health risks in today’s society and workplace. That’s because the effects of burnout are potentially devastating for those who have to cope with it, and the impact on an organization’s daily operations is also profound. It has been linked to lower productivity levels, increased absenteeism and turnover, a loss of morale and job satisfaction, and a higher risk of mistakes. This can ultimately harm a company’s bottom line by reducing profits, customer satisfaction, and competitive advantage.
Due to employee burnout, the global costs of turnover and lost productivity are estimated over $322 billion USD
Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report
2. What is Burnout Exactly?
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis. It’s defined as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” In everyday language: it’s a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and intense stress, often related to work. People who have experienced it say it feels like your battery is completely drained: you no longer have energy for anything, can’t handle much physically, feel down, cynical, and alienated from your surroundings and co-workers. Other symptoms include irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances.
3. Stress at Work: The Numbers Speak for Themselves
Unfortunately, burnout is a growing problem. Recent workplace trends such as the Great Resignation, the pandemic-induced surge in turnover rates, and the phenomenon of quiet quitting all suggest a common pattern: employees are experiencing high-stress levels, are reevaluating their relationship with work, and are reassessing their priorities in life.
In a study on stress at work published by Lepaya in 2021, in which we surveyed 1.322 European workers, we found that:
- As many as 66% of employees in Europe suffer from unhealthy levels of stress at work
- 56% of the Dutch state that they experience too much stress
- 67% of Belgian employees experience high levels of stress
- 70% of employees from the United Kingdom experience high levels of anxiety
- German employees are the least fortunate, with as many as 71% saying they experience an unhealthy amount of stress
According to research from Gartner, 2022 was the worst year on record for global employee stress. Their study found that out of 3.500 workers surveyed, 58% are stressed and 48% are worried about work. Because the implications are so profound, CHROs increasingly focus on understanding, resolving, and preventing employee burnout.
4. Preventing Burnout with Training, Learning & Development
If you want to prevent your people from getting sick and leaving your company, you need to act now. The world we live in is already turbulent, the economic climate difficult, and the job market tight, so the last thing you want as a CHRO is an unhappy workforce and talent gaps opening up.
You might also like: The Art of Top Talent Retention: How to Stop Losing A-players
One way organizations can prevent burnout and support the well-being of their employees is by investing in learning and development (L&D) initiatives. By offering leadership training to prevent burnout in the workplace, organizations can ensure that their managers and (first-time) leaders have the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to recognize stress within their teams and themselves. On top of that, building resilience through learning and development effectively reduces feelings of frustration, insecurity, and helplessness that can contribute to burnout. That’s because it helps your people to cope better with challenging situations and setbacks – now and in the future.
Leaders are the driving forces of promoting a healthy workspace, and by role modeling behavior they heavily impact the culture.
And although challenging situations and stressful events are a given, the key is to ensure recovery (or recharging) from them before diving into the next
Anouk de Jong, Power Skill Owner & Trainer – Resilience at Lepaya
Interested to learn more from experts about talent stress and resilience solutions? Sign up for our webinar here on May 16th
5. Innovative Solutions for Burnout Prevention
At Lepaya, we have created a number of L&D programs that include modules important for burnout prevention. Our Power Skills training and overall vision revolve around some of the following themes:
- Increasing employee engagement through personal growth
- Building employee resilience
- Boosting a growth mindset
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Empowering leadership
- Creating a continuous learning culture
Personal growth opportunities for preventing burnout
Research has shown that people who feel that their employers value their growth and development within the company show higher levels of engagement and work happiness. When you offer training options that align with your employees’ interests and professional goals, you show your teams that you’re invested in their future careers. Whether training skills for first-time leaders or offering emotional intelligence training for employees, personal growth opportunities can play a critical role in preventing employee burnout.
At Lepaya, we are highly invested in new L&D technologies, such as AI-powered personalized leadership training and scalable learning solutions. These innovative solutions provide your employees with development opportunities that enhance their performance and enable internal mobility, leading to expanded career options within the company. By embedding talent development programs in the company’s culture, these solutions can promote employee retention and contribute to overall employee happiness in an empowering and constructive way.
Resilience building training
Your people will always face periods of stress, it’s inevitable. How they cope with that stress not only influences their personal well-being but also has an impact on the business outcomes of your organization. Being able to recover from setbacks (like a missed promotion), bounce back from difficult situations (like resolving conflicts between team members), and adapt to new challenges (like transitioning to a new role) all boils down to one skill – resilience development.
Developing employee resilience is critical in this day and age because the modern workplace is constantly changing and can be stressful, challenging, and unpredictable. Employees who are resilient are better equipped to manage the pressures and demands of their jobs, maintain their mental health and well-being, and stay engaged and productive.
On top of that, resilient employees are more likely to persevere through obstacles, find creative solutions to problems, and contribute to building a positive workplace culture. By training employee resilience, organizations can also promote a culture of innovation, agility, and adaptability.
At Lepaya, we train your people to develop resilience with the following modules:
- Working with stress
Teach employees to make stress a friend by employing the stress response cycle: our natural reaction to stress. It’s broken into three stages: the beginning (perceiving the threat), the middle (cortisol begins to pump through our bodies and we get ready to fight or take flight) and the end (releasing the stress from our bodies). Learning how to deal with these stages helps to break free of the cycle
- Managing your energy
Encourage employees to make a conscious effort to manage their own energy, which consists of four different sources: physical, mental, emotional, and purpose
- Managing stress & energy in your team
Encourage your team to work with optimal stress and energy levels for their well-being
- Finding your focus
Create sharp focus by identifying when people are distracted during their day-to-day work with our time management training to prevent workplace burnout
Boosting a growth mindset
Some people believe their success or failure in life is primarily determined by their innate talents and abilities rather than their effort or hard work. As a result, they avoid challenges and risks because they fear failure or negative feedback that may challenge their sense of identity and self-worth. This so-called fixed mindset suppresses professional growth, which can affect personal happiness down the line. When you cultivate a growth mindset, you’ll create a safe environment where it’s ok to make mistakes, not something negative. People will feel comfortable sharing and receiving criticism, find lessons and inspiration in the success of others, instead of feeling intimidated and stressed out that they’re ‘not good enough.’ The growth mindset module is part of our Intentional Learning Power Skill.
Interpersonal communication skills training
When disgruntled employees are uncomfortable expressing their emotions and thoughts freely to their manager, chances are they will discuss it with their colleagues. This can result in a culture of resistance, poor performance, and even gossip and exclusion. That’s why as a leader, you should always show your teams you genuinely care about their concerns and worries. Train your communication skills and learn how to listen actively. It helps you build trust and allows you to identify potential problems before they negatively affect your team’s well-being. Learn more about burnout prevention through communication skills training in our Collaboration & Influence Power Skill training.
The leadership of the future means not just leading your employees but empowering them to become the best versions of their professional selves. With our Power Skill training aimed at first-time leaders, your A-players learn how to build a happy and effective team by promoting psychological safety and are given the best tools to make their team members flourish. And when people can thrive, you immediately create a burnout-proof environment based on trust and mutual respect.
Continuous learning culture for burnout prevention
Finally, our L&D programs help to create a culture of ongoing learning and development that can act as a buffer against burnout. By promoting and emphasizing the importance of continuous learning, you will create a framework for employee development and innovation, which in turn contributes to higher levels of work satisfaction and burnout prevention.
For more info on this topic, make sure to sign up for our resilience and stress management webinar on May 16th.
At Lepaya, we help teams and future leaders develop their skills by offering innovative learning experiences and Power Skills training. Our talent development programs, also effective for burnout prevention, include intentional learning, empowering leadership, resilience and collaboration & influence.
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