As many oil and gas companies are doing more with less and even reducing headcount, it is common to see employees getting overwhelmed, stressed, and burned out in their jobs. While grateful to have a job, these employees could be on the path to “burnout,” with employers running the risk of impacted performance, decreased employee engagement, and increased turnover. To compound this issue, managers tend to overload employees who are most competent. This is even more of an issue in a small to mid-sized company. Knowing this reality, how do employers buffer high-performing employees from the burnout factor?
Here are some tips to slow down the burnout rate:
- Have a "stay conversation". Managers need to identify key contributors and schedule time to discuss their goals, needs and concerns. Block out time to let them know how valuable they are and how they fit into the organziation going forward.
- Avoid duplication of effort. A lack of clear procedures or processes in some companies leads to many employees trying to accomplish the same tasks. Make sure everyone is on the same page and clear about their roles and responsibilities.
- Redistribute the work. If you have a key employee who is overbooked, look for ways to redistribute some of the less critical workload. Could another employee take it on to learn and develop from it?
- Maintain open communications. With many companies planning for layoffs in a more challenging oil price market, it is important to be honest with employees. The threat of being laid off causes great anxiety and stress which compounds burnout. If layoffs are planned, be up front and implement the reduction in workforce quickly, so the majority of employees aren’t wondering if they will be laid off over a long duration of time.
- Eliminate your organization’s “sacred cows.” Many companies fall into a “that’s the way we have always done it” pattern. It is critical to step back and review business processes on a regular basis to make sure they are efficient and support strategies. Perhaps a couple steps can be removed from a process, thus saving everyone time and money.
- Be aware of company culture and personalities. Sometimes, a culture that is highly competitive or prone to employee backbiting, can cause a lot of emotional stress. Address any negative employees as quickly as possible and promote an environment conducive to teamwork and cooperation.
- Enforce “unplugged” vacation time. Everyone needs to get away completely from their jobs to recharge. Our culture is hyper connected; we constantly check e-mail, texts, and voicemail, and employees can never completely disconnect. A vacation where an employee doesn’t have to check in should be a basic part of company expectations. This is a good time to determine how that employee’s job is backed up. This is particularly a useful exercise in case they don’t return from vacation!
- Build in flexibility. According to FootBridge Energy Services, a global recruiting company, “allowing flexibility in schedules gives employees an increased feeling of personal control over their schedules and work environment. It also allows employees to work when they are most productive and balance work with family needs, life responsibilities, and personal obligations.”
- Realistic staffing. It is critical to step back and look at your staffing. Do you have enough employees to realistically do the work? Do you have some employees that aren’t fully contributing, or having performance issues that need to be managed out? Do you need to add to headcount or look for other resources like contractors or outsourcing functions?
While all of these tips need to be realistically balanced with the organization’s needs, it is well worth the time and effort to invest in creating a culture that tempers burnout rates. By proactively tackling these issues, organizations reap the rewards of increased engagement, retention, and happier employees.