How to Stop Burnout in Its Tracks

How are you feeling?

When you close your eyes at night, do you feel the phantom buzzing of your phone? Are you tempted to check work email at midnight, just in case?

If so, it might be time to take a break. As we’ve become more connected and more prone to multitasking, we’ve also become prime candidates for burnout. Employee burnout is the reason behind up to half of overall workforce turnover. Many companies face this issue, and while some factors can’t be avoided, there are many within our control.

Dr. Jen Faber has been there before. After building a successful medical practice, she realized that she was overworked and unhappy. “We live in such a fast-paced culture that we actually forget the why behind it all and what makes us love the work that we do,” Faber says.

She built a new path as an entrepreneur, coaching leaders on wellness and healthy habits. We asked Dr. Faber what company and HR leaders can do to keep their teams in good health and high spirits.

Cut Down Distraction During the Work Day

“Every company needs a productive workforce,” Faber says. “But the truth is that if you have employees who are hyperconnected, it’s actually a productivity buzzkill.”

Each time employees are distracted by their email, it can take them up to 30 minutes to get back to their work, she says.

Companies can cut down on this lag by creating universal check-in times when employees respond to emails or communicate with their teams. For example, if everyone checks email at 8am and 4pm, everyone is communicating around the same time and can spend the rest of their day focused on work.

If you’re leading a team, it’s doubly important for you to limit your digital distractions. When employees see their leaders setting boundaries, they’ll learn to respect those boundaries and even set their own, Faber says.

And, instead of setting blanket rules for everyone, Faber suggests leaders ask their team for input. Ask for their perspectives on how you could all work more productively together. What’s best for the leader might not be best for everyone.

Disconnect After Hours

Adults dealing with high stress are less likely to get enough sleep — which can reduce productivity and cause faster burnout. Help your team get enough rest by encouraging everyone to disconnect after hours.

Faber suggests disconnecting from devices an hour before bedtime to give your brain time to shut down for easier sleep. She also suggests defining a sacred space at home where devices aren’t allowed, such as the bedroom. Doing so breaks the association of doing work in a space that’s meant for relaxation.

Reward Employees Who Disconnect

What can leaders really do to promote better work/life balance? Faber suggests implementing a program that provides incentives for disconnecting. “I think having a built-in incentive program can give companies the opportunity to create a solution that’s actually best for their culture and best for their employees as well,” Faber says.

And remember that when we talk about productivity, we’re really talking about employee health. Keep in mind that productivity is really about “how to get more work done purposefully, in less time, from a more positive place,” she says.