The factors that affect employee productivity go beyond building good work relations and implementing worker-friendly policies and procedures. How modern-day organizations operate and what employees expect have significantly evolved, especially with the increase of hybrid and remote work cultures after the pandemic. Going by this, you need to develop a strategic plan for the professional growth and skill development of your team. 

Lack of job-specific skills negatively impacts productivity, increases operational costs, slows production times, and increases burnout rates. A Deloitte Workplace Burnout Survey shows 77% of employees experienced burnout in 2020. In 2021 and 2022, 68.6% and 79% of employees experienced burnout, respectively. Human resource burnout is a serious issue that organizations cannot ignore. 

The role of L&D goes much beyond aligning the organization’s and employees’ goals and productivity by providing workers with the right skills. The field is continuously evolving, so let’s dig deeper into how L&D plays a major role in preventing employee burnout.

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Signs of employee burnout and how it can influence business

Mayo Clinic describes employee burnout as a serious health issue that affects a worker’s physical and emotional health. It is classified as work-related stress that leads to exhaustion, stress, reduced performance and may cause depression. Various signs of employee burnout include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Emotional impairment
  • Mental distance (Lack of focus)
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Reduced productivity
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Making mistakes repeatedly
  • Stress and seclusion
  • Increased absenteeism

Factors that lead to burnout range from individual factors to corporate, social, health, and skills. The American Psychological Association lists the causes of employee burnout as follows:

  • Poor support and lack of recognition from the organization’s leadership
  • Unachievable work deadlines and performance expectations
  • Working for many hours consistently

Burnout impacts businesses in various ways. Here’s how it can hamper an organization’s functioning and even lead to a complete halt of processes if not addressed promptly:

  • Poor productivity: Burnout reduces team productivity because it affects employee health and general well-being.
  • High rate of employee turnover and attrition: Employees who feel disconnected from their work are more likely to quit. High churn increases costs associated with recruiting and onboarding new hires.
  • Lack of worker engagement: Poor worker engagement derails business processes, service delivery, product quality, and customer satisfaction.
  • Absenteeism and poor health: Companies spend more on medical costs and lose many work hours. 

To support workforce mental health and well-being, an organization can send regular employee newsletters that inform and educate employees on health management and how to build a better work-life balance.

Why L&D is essential in preventing and healing burnout

A study by UiPath showed that 86% of employees would be willing to change their jobs if another organization offered them better professional development opportunities. The same report showed that 92% of professionals believe skill development is critical. L&D managers can help prevent and heal employee burnout if they strategically introduce professional growth plans to guide employee skill development.

Skilling and upskilling increases job satisfaction

A lot of workers experience burnout because they feel they are not adequately skilled for the work tasks they are given. Shift Disruptive Learning reports that employee L&D programs increase productivity by more than 200%. =

Upskilling is a kind of stretch assignment that helps employees to gain new skills and work knowledge to perform their current jobs better and take up new roles if required. The training modules in upskilling are designed to boost career advancement and internal mobility for the employees. The main components of upskilling are knowledge sharing, cross-team collaboration, and hands-on learning experiences. 

Developing a positive work culture

Employees can develop a negative mindset when they feel their workplace concerns are not heard or addressed, and management is not keen to provide solutions. 

Take for example, an employee who struggles to use a work tool because they have not been properly trained to do so.  Because they are unable to complete their task and cannot solve the issue on their own, their morale decreases and they lose interest in performing their duties.

Another example is when an employee knows how to use a software well, but has limited access to it, creating a lack of transparency and slowing down their work. This type of problem can be easily fixed by using shared or managed accounts for work. Lack of skill support leads to a negative work culture and poor business results, so it's important to provide the proper training for required skills in the workplace.

LinkedIn Learning’s Workplace Learning Report shows learning and development promote enhanced collaboration and flexibility in the workplace. 64% of workers say L&D helps them to be more adaptable to change. Robust L&D programs create a positive work culture and prevent burnout by committing to and supporting long-term employee success within the organization.

Higher motivation and engagement

L&D managers should focus on continuous training to promote long-term employee  enjoyment and motivation. Currently, more than 90% of organizations have digital initiatives in place.

Workplace technologies are changing fast, creating a greater need for employees to adapt and learn new skills just as quickly .  Employers must ensure employees are up to date with the current digital skills. 

Skilling and upskilling help workers react quicker to evolving market needs. Employees who feel emotionally connected to their work and the organization are less likely to experience burnout and see higher levels of motivation and engagement. 

Increased awareness about burnout and prevention strategies

Training not only focuses on improving work skills, but also on creating awareness about issues that create burnout and how to prevent it. Sometimes, a worker might not be aware they are developing burnout. Some might not understand why they have negative feelings about their work and could be ashamed to speak out. Part of L&D programs should involve management training focusing on burnout prevention. The training should cover key areas such as:

  • Identifying signs of burnout: It is crucial that workers understand the signs of burnout and how to deal with them. 
  • Balancing work and life: In modern times, many organizations are adopting hybrid work models where workers partly work from home and partly from the office. Employees need to be knowledgeable about balancing work and life to avoid burnout.
  • Learn the importance of speaking out: When workers keep burnout to themselves, they’re more likely to experience depression and leave the company. Good training helps employees understand how to share their feelings and who to share with–while making it clear there is a safe space for them to do so.
  • Identifying skills gaps: Training needs analysis helps L&D create a repeatable process for employees to effectively pinpoint what skills they are lacking and inform the employer for action. 

Five ways L&D can help to combat burnout

1. Keeping employees motivated and energetic

A report by the Science of People shows 84% of the millennial generation experiences job-related burnout, and more than half have quit a job due to lack of motivation and fatigue. The industries most affected by workforce burnout are healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, retail and consumer goods.

Professional training and development are effective solutions for maintaining employee job satisfaction and combating burnout, by keeping employees energetic and motivated. 

2. Creating solutions, not stress

Demanding high performance from employees without providing the necessary training leads to stress, complaints, and dissatisfaction, which are catalysts of burnout. The purpose of training and development is to create repeatable solutions to business challenges. It prepares employees with the knowledge and skills to solve problems themselves, instead of relying on managers to help them. 

3. Promotion of flexibility and collaboration

Every employee contributes to  the main goals of the organization. This means each role is not an individual worker’s responsibility, but serves a collective goal. Lack of collaboration leads to procrastination, blaming, and micromanagement. Well-designed training programs help employees understand how their unique roles and skills contribute to the  company’s larger  strategic vision. This improves workplace collaboration and worker autonomy, lowering the risks of burnout. 

4. Providing career growth opportunities through internal movement

Employees are more susceptible to burnout when they feel like their work is not impactful or meaningful.  Repetitive daily work routines without opportunities for growth or internal mobility can become monotonous and lead to mental and physical exhaustion. This increases employee turnover, as they look elsewhere for more interesting and challenging career opportunities. 

Diversified skills training also equips employees with knowledge of other functions in the company, fostering stronger collaboration between teams and departments. If employees are interested in moving laterally or upward into new roles, internal upskilling programs are key to making these moves possible. 

5. Empowering employees and developing future leaders

Having access to knowledge and learning new skills makes employees feel valued. It empowers them to make independent decisions in the workplace with autonomy and confidence. When your workforce feels empowered, they become effective team members that can influence other colleagues positively. Empowering your employees and developing a stress-free environment can be achieved with these initiatives:

  • Delegating responsibilities to develop
  • Creating a culture of trust
  • Building a culture of open communication and continuous learning
  • Offering targeted training/courses
  • Regularly communicating the organization’s mission and vision

L&D plays a key role in succession planning–whether that’s internally backfilling managerial roles, or creating new positions for internal candidates as the company grows. Talent development gives employees resources and support for career growth, which makes them stay motivated, energetic, and loyal to your organization.

The road ahead for L&D in handling employee burnout

It’s evident that excessive workplace stress and poor management lead to higher rates of employee turnover and burnout. Organizations that offer lifelong L&D experiences and invest in their employees’ well-being and development see improved communication, engagement, and productivity. 

Effective training content increases employee trust, confidence, and retention.  To combat and prevent employee burnout, L&D teams should focus on continuous skills development, leadership training, and long-term employee growth within the organization. 

To create a culture of continuous learning within your organization, consider a collaborative learning platform like 360Learning. L&D teams can do more with less, by enabling employees to declare learning needs in real-time, and empowering subject-matter experts to create and edit relevant courses quickly–all with one solution. Book a personalized demo here, to see how 360Learning can prevent burnout while driving performance-led L&D for your workforce.