The Great Resignation has one clear cause: employee burnout. In a recent survey, more than half of employees said they feel burned out, and more than two-thirds say the feeling has increased since the onset of the pandemic. Given these common sentiments, it's no surprise workers are quitting their jobs in droves in search of (what they hope are) greener pastures at other companies.
As business leaders scramble to retain employees, they're making the mistake of relying primarily on HR to solve the problem. Employee stress and frustrations often have roots in technology that is — or isn't — being used to facilitate remote work. And this means IT teams play a vital role in preventing burnout.
The rapid shift to a remote and hybrid workplace has certainly contributed to employee frustration. Many organizations are still running on cobbled-together remote networks with disparate systems and inefficient processes. Without updated technology, this can also create the potential for security breaches, further adding to employee stress.
The Haves and the Have-Nots
When it comes to ineffective and painful processes, organizations often fall into two categories: the haves and the have nots. Some organizations have an overwhelming number of tools, which can lead to application overload on top of Zoom fatigue, while other organizations without enough technology don't have the productivity tools necessary for employees to do their best work. Where a casual comment about lack of tech resources at the water cooler might have sufficed before, now employees seek out resources on their own and bring in shadow IT, resulting in possibly more security vulnerabilities.
Both types of organizations are ultimately failing to inspire and motivate their employees, leading to burnout. Employees need more efficient, automated processes as well as access to the right amount of productivity tools to ensure they do their best work and maintain their well-being. Not only will this help reduce burnout, but it will also help mitigate turnover, reduce security vulnerabilities, streamline workflows, and increase productivity.
4 Steps to Mitigate Employee Burnout and Maximize Productivity
It's on IT departments and business leaders — not just HR — to develop the solutions that will end the Great Resignation. Streamlined processes and tools are necessary to enhance your employees' abilities to do their job. And when new employees join your workforce — or as I refer to it, the "Great Reshuffle" — you need to ensure these new hires don't have the same unfulfilling experience as they did in their previous roles.
Here are several ways your IT teams and decision-makers can step in to drive innovation and improve employee well-being and workflows.
- Create a culture of feedback. Employees need to feel comfortable and able to raise their hands to flag concerns. For example, your organization is currently using spreadsheets to manage customer relationships and data manually, but your employees think this is inefficient. You need to create a culture of feedback where they can easily come forward and help IT make a business case that it's time for a CRM solution to optimize workflows. With this culture in place, you can ensure employees feel heard and enable access to the tools they need. Direct access to business and IT leaders, and the ability to provide feedback, make it less likely employees will turn to shadow IT, which gives control back to the IT department and minimizes security risks.
- Prioritize security. Remote and hybrid work have increased the risk of cyber threats. Now, more than ever, security is critical to business continuity. But without secure processes and regular data backups — or with too many tools and shadow IT creating vulnerabilities — employees and their productivity are left at risk in the event of a cyberattack. Data backups and continuous software updates need to be a priority, but you can't rely solely on your vendors. Their weekly backups alone are not enough — create your own backup protocols in case of a catastrophic event to ensure employees are able to quickly restore their work. By taking these proactive steps, you can ensure security across the organization and minimize stress for your workforce.
- Pull data analytics. Data analytics also offer great insights that can help mitigate burnout and turnover. You can gather analytics from applications such as Microsoft Teams and Outlook to determine an employee's productive time, time spent in meetings, and downtime. Depending on the tools you currently use, this valuable information could be trapped in your tooling — but gaining access to it is critical to minimizing employee burnout. With this data, you can help employees identify areas where they can reduce time spent in irrelevant meetings and instead maximize productivity.
- Invest in hyperautomation. Manual and repetitive processes create headaches for employees and can lead to burnout. To ease these pain points, introduce hyperautomation (i.e., a comprehensive framework of multiple technologies tailored to a company's unique needs that help automate all organizational processes that can be automated). Too many tools only add to employee stress, but with hyperautomation, you can determine which tools are necessary and which processes to automate. You can also scale up your use of automation over time to ensure the organization is investing in the right tools and processes to increase operational efficiency. Hyperautomation reduces repetitive and mundane tasks, freeing resources to focus on more high-value and engaging work.This helps minimize feelings of burnout.
You can't solve the effects of the Great Resignation at your organization if the right people aren't involved. Your IT teams, alongside business leaders, can support the workforce by creating a culture of feedback and introducing automation into your tech ecosystem. With more effective, innovative tools and processes, you can inspire employees, maximize productivity, and mitigate burnout and turnover.