Small business employees usually understand that they may often be called upon to perform extra duties in order to help the company thrive. If you hired well, you hired your employees because they expressed the desire and dedication to make some sacrifices in order to see the business succeed. But, there is a fine line here between encouraging a dedicated employee and being a taskmaster.
Even the most optimistic, upbeat, “all-in” person on your payroll can get burned out. Sometimes, it’s because that employee isn’t properly balancing their work and personal life. But much of the time, it’s not the employee who’s to blame; it’s the company as a whole. And while it may seem like it’s just a morale problem that can be handled “eventually,” the truth is, burnout can have a drastic impact on your bottom line.
It’s estimated that employee burnout and stress costs employers hundreds of billions of dollars a year. This includes turnover, productivity loss, absenteeism, workers’ compensation and more. Moreover, stress and burnout can weaken the immune system, increasing sick days and insurance costs.
While stress can never be entirely eliminated from the workforce, there are ways you can likely change your business practices to better avoid total burnout. These include reducing unnecessary collaboration, spreading the workload evenly and strengthening your time management skills.
Eliminating Unnecessary Collaboration
When your business was still in its fledgling stage, you may have had just a couple employees. Together, you all knew what was happening with the business, and you were all in the loop at all times. It was exciting, as everyone had decision-making power in some capacity or another.
Perhaps you’re still in this stage. If so, use this section as a preliminary caution as you begin to grow. For those who have grown their companies to have multiple departments and leaders, excessive collaboration can be a mind and emotion drain. When, say, a sales manager is pulled unnecessarily into a project in product development —even just by email —her work day is taken off course. By having to suddenly switch to a new context and task, the completion time for both that project and the one she was previously working on increase by about 25 percent. (That’s right: Multitasking effectively is a myth.)
Of course, some collaboration is inevitable, and is even crucial to the survival of your company. But as a small business owner, you should be wary about pulling too many people into too many projects. This means limiting the number of meetings you have, and who you have them with.
It also means limiting emails, instant messages and other communication to those who actually need to be in the loop. That way, employees can focus on fewer tasks and therefore complete them more thoroughly —and more quickly —without being bogged down.
Spreading the Workload Evenly
Even in a team of just 10 or 15, you probably have an employee that shines above the rest. No matter what you give them, they take care of it diligently and expertly. So, you start giving them more and more “critical” tasks, and pretty soon, they are buried neck-deep with a to-do list full of assignments outside their specialty, with more piling on every day.
While the best employees can keep their head above it all for a while, they’ll drown under it eventually. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you do have a full team of employees who can handle the workload. Expecting your most capable employee(s) to either complete the task or delegate it on their own can be a massive mistake.
In many cases, it’ll swing from one extreme to the other: That employee will try to do it all up until they burn out, then they’ll delegate everything, even tasks that actually fall under their jurisdiction.
Instead, spread the workload evenly from the start. The best way to do so is to use a workflow management software that fits your business’s needs, and most importantly, shows what each employee has in their docket. If an employee is overloaded, take some of the stress of their shoulders by delegating a few of their tasks to others in the business.
Strengthening Your Time Management Skills
When employees are forced to collaborate all the time on projects, and/or are overloaded with tasks, it can become difficult to figure out how to get everything done without working 18-hour days. As a small business leader, you must have an idea of not just how much activities like collaboration benefit the company, but also the cost. If it’s hurting more than it’s helping, it’s up to you to take action. Ultimately, the boss is responsible for the success of the company.
That means it’s up to you and your leadership team to sit down and cut out the things that are causing burnout. Perhaps that means meetings are shortened to only 30 minutes, and only so many meetings can happen a week. Or, it may mean taking some tasks off an employee’s plate and putting them on your own. Whatever you can do to avoid employee burnout, it’s generally in your best interest to do it.
Conclusion: Find the Best Candidates for the Job
Of course, some employee burnout can be attributed to having the wrong person on staff. With Company.com’s small business hiring software, you can keep track of every candidate who applies fora job with you, sort them by your own criteria and simplify the hiring process altogether. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your small business thrive, and to start a free trial of our premium software package.