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It’s the biggest and most talked about threat to the health and wellbeing of employees: overwork! But it’s also the least understood. How, then, can employers begin to tackle such a complex and pervasive workplace problem, and safeguard employees from the perils of overwork?

The story of the pandemic is a well-rehearsed one by now. Over the course of the last 18 months, the rise in home and flexible working models has made staff even more susceptible to overwork, as the line between home and work life has become increasingly blurred. Workloads have increased, and with this, stress, anxiety, and burnout.

As specialists in employee wellbeing, we are passionate about empowering individuals to take charge of their health through education and awareness raising. But employers also need to take responsibility to ensure that staff are protected from the conditions that give rise to overwork in the first place.

Burnout spreads like wildfire, so having preventative methods in place is essential.

Here are 7 essential ways to safeguard your employees

  1. Provide clear job descriptions

    The first step comes during the hiring process; ensure you have a detailed job description so that staff know exactly what is expected of them. Once you have a team in place, tailor each of their jobs to their strengths. By having well-established job descriptions, you will benefit from each persons’ skillset and curate a team that works in unison, where team members complement each other; this will ensure maximum efficiency and prevent confusion, frustration and burnout.

  2. Maintain focused goals

    Alongside having a comprehensive job description, you also want to establish a set of goals. Divide these into long-term and short-term goals. The short-term goals should be clear and achievable in a short timeframe, providing your team with clear commitments to work towards. Getting recognition for achieving these short-term goals will boost morale and make people more inclined to work harder towards more challenging, longer-term goals. Your long-term goals should be linked clearly to opportunities for career progression. This will give employees an incentive to push themselves in their work.

  3. Recognise Achievements

    Giving positive feedback and recognising hard work is something that is often overlooked. But it is a simple and effective way of motivating your employees. Employees often look to their employers for guidance on how to act around the office, so it is up to you to implement the best company atmosphere possible. Be open, friendly, appreciative, and always ready to listen and take on board criticism and feedback. In turn, your employees will respond positively. Research has shown that failing to recognise your employees’ achievements negatively impacts their productivity, creative output, decision making, and overall commitment to the company.

  4. Provide proper training

    Invest in proper training for yourself and your employees. Providing appropriate training for managers will ensure they are in tune with the needs of employees and have the skills necessary to perform their job. Similarly, by enriching staff with necessary training, you are ensuring they can perform their job more efficiently and are less at risk of overwork and burnout. Training is an investment. It ensures that your employees feel less stressed and better equipped to go about their daily tasks.

  5. Give access to support

    Many companies have started to introduce yoga sessions, breathing classes, or time-outs on World Mental Health Day, which is good, but far from enough. These initiatives should be in place all year round and be a given in any company. Looking after your staff’s mental health will mean they are more able to perform their job. If you have support in place, make sure your employees are aware of it and feel safe and comfortable seeking help. Alongside year-round support, think about having days focused on boosting wellness with activities such as puppy therapy, meditation introduction, and origami making. The possibilities are endless! This will also help develop interpersonal relations and build company spirit.

  6. Encourage communication

    Being an approachable employer will make your employees feel more comfortable coming to you if they have any concerns, frustrations, or ideas. Be present in your organisation. This means not being locked away in your office all the time. Avoid micromanaging and try not to hover over employees asking for daily updates. Trust goes a long way and will make your employees feel more included in the company. Try holding weekly debriefs to go over what has been achieved and what to focus on. This will ensure a safe space for open communication.

  7. Be the change you want to see

    If you feel as though your company is stagnating or your employees are starting to look haggard, then take proactive steps towards fixing it. Gather feedback and make simple changes to meet the needs of staff, for example, by adjusting lighting, temperature and office layout. Think about flexible working hours and other benefits that may align with your employees’ lifestyles and personal circumstances. Try increasing social activities to promote a positive, transparent company culture.

Safeguarding your employees from the perils of overwork will have a significant impact on overall productivity, and instil a positive organisational culture. The 7 simple methods above could go a long way in promoting the kind of workplace where staff feel energised, purpose-driven and motivated to succeed. Contact us at Thrive4Life and find out how we can help your employees thrive!

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