How to Avoid Employee Burnout When Scaling
For businesses, growth is of the utmost importance. Companies that fail to grow become stagnant and these motionless enterprises eventually sputter and fail. In the modern era, growth often comes in the form of international expansion as companies seek out new markets on foreign shores. While opportunities can be found in those markets, rapid expansion on a global scale can also present new and unexpected challenges. One of those potential challenges is the increased risk of employee burnout, as you and your team find yourselves overloaded with added workplace demands.
The desire to grow quickly can often cause business owners to scale their operations prematurely. While that can bring an increase in revenue and profit, it can also create a whole host of problems if you fail to plan for the expansion. Many of those difficulties will directly impact your existing workforce, as employees will find themselves tasked with new responsibilities and expectations. Many will feel overwhelmed by those duties and obligations which can lead to employee burnout.
It is not uncommon for employers to mismanage their international scaling efforts by underestimating the increased workload and capacity of their personnel. Unfortunately, these mistakes can lead to burnout – both for the business owner and their employees. If your company is expanding and you suspect that you or your team might be getting overloaded by the pace of new growth, the chances are that your company has miscalculated one of these areas:
- Realistic allocation of responsibility: There is a natural tendency to rely on the most competent people in your organisation to carry out new projects or assist you with new work. Unfortunately, this can mean a marked increase in responsibilities for those employees which if they’re unprepared, can add to their stress and create new levels of frustration.
- The infrastructure needed to support the expansion: Companies that misjudge their infrastructure needs can create chaos within their enterprises. The unnecessary strain on a company’s structure can hinder normal processes, creating more work for overloaded employees.
- The appropriate level of support: Sometimes, companies can misjudge their efforts so badly that they fail to provide the right level of offshore support to manage the growth in their foreign markets. That invariably results in the company’s original core team being forced to pick up the slack.
- Focus on personnel: Many companies simply fail to consider the amount of work each individual has. They become so focused on the needs of the business and the targets they must reach, that they fail to consider the impact on the team. Business owners and management take on too much at once and have no mechanisms in place to monitor employee morale and engagement. Often, overload and burnout occur before these companies realise that there’s a problem.
Indicators of Work Overload
If you suspect that your employees are struggling with their workloads due to new growth, it’s important to take steps to address the situation. Of course, you won’t be able to correct the problem if you can’t identify it. The good news is that there are a number of signs that indicate the onset of employee burnout. Overload – or burnout as some like to call it – is a state in which a person is experiencing noticeable exhaustion on a mental, emotional or physical level. Severe burnout often sees employees exhausted in every way and can be accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- A resigned attitude in which the employee seems to have no confidence in their ability to change their circumstances.
- Lack of motivation which can often manifest as an expression of disillusionment with the company and their role in its mission.
- Cognitive issues. If they seem distracted, unable to perform routine tasks or otherwise mentally distant, it could be a sign that they’ve reached their limit.
- Emotional disruption. Employees who have taken too much on can be short-tempered, easily frustrated and otherwise difficult to predict.
Addressing the Problem
Suspected employee burnout should be addressed promptly before it leads to bigger concerns. Recognise that fatigue is almost always an indication of systemic weaknesses in the company. If your team is suffering from overload, it’s rarely due to any deficiencies on their part. It’s most commonly a sign that your growth strategy has failed to take their long-term mental, emotional, and physical health into consideration. That’s something that needs to be corrected as soon as you discover it.
Start by sitting down with those individuals and examine their workload and levels of responsibility. In most instances, your most overloaded team members will also be the most capable. But that tendency can result in those workers burdened with additional work to the point where their effectiveness is disrupted.
Examine your growth plan and the strategy you’re using to implement it. You may need to reassign some responsibilities to others, hire new members or alter your plan to ease the overload. The solution may even be something as simple as providing those employees with more autonomy – especially if your collaborative structure is too time-consuming. Sometimes they just need greater empowerment and the freedom to do their jobs without undue interruption or micromanagement.
Ultimately the best option is to avoid unnecessary excess work altogether. It is possible to scale into new international markets without overloading your team and causing employee burnout. Make sure that your growth plan takes into account their existing workloads and ensure you provide every level of your organisation with the support and resources needed to prevent that overload. In the end, this is the best way to facilitate the execution of your global growth strategy, while preserving the health and well-being of your company and each of your employees.