Let’s face the music—employees are having a tough time right now. It’s obvious even when we’re not talking about it. The signs of low engagement are everywhere. People calling in sick, strained relationships between co-workers, screen fatigue. Burnout is at its worst when good employees stop caring, and many business leaders and managers have noticed exactly that happening in their organizations.
Why are we feeling so burned out?
What exactly is leading to these symptoms at work? Why haven’t we re-engaged after the pandemic like we thought we would?
The rise of hustle culture over the last decade is one reason. Before the pandemic, the workplace narrative centered on a 40-hour work week. But over the years, a lot of people have accepted hustling as a necessity, if not a virtue. Across an increasing number of channels, you can find influencers and thought leaders sharing the same message: The more you hustle, the more you get. That pressure has not really let up in the last two years—it has simply morphed. The remote work evolution requires more flexibility, but often this means employees are working more—including overtime and hidden digital hours on top of extra childcare—not less.
But not everyone is working more because they feel the need to hustle. The “war for talent” plays a role as well. Some people are working more because there aren't enough people to do everything that needs to be done. In very specialized areas, the greatest challenge can be finding people who can do what the job requires. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, 87% of large companies say they have a skills gap or expect to in a few years. If companies fail to prioritize recruitment, retainment, and skills gap analysis, they may risk losing more employees due to burnout.
Finally, while the rise of tech is often evangelized by leaders, it can just add fuel to the burnout fire unless it is used directly to help employees. Companies need to invest in solutions that will reduce the burden of tiresome tasks, rather than giving employees more to do. If companies aren't investing in tools that will make certain tasks or functions easier, they might actually be contributing to the stress their employees feel.
There is plenty of hope to be found, though. While many people are quitting due to burnout, we can make a difference in how people experience their workloads, which has been shown to be the main contributing factor in employee disengagement.
How can outsourcing help you re-engage with your employees?
There are many reasons for why companies put off making changes that would help them engage employees. Some changes are perceived as too expensive. Other solutions may seem unproven. And in other cases, the team either doesn’t have the bandwidth to deal with any more decisions or they don’t actually realize how broken their employees are.
A solution? Outsourcing. By hiring other companies to help yours streamline its HR processes, for example, HR employees can focus on other initiatives, like creating a more equitable and engaged workplace. HR often oversees a variety of processes, including recruitment, payroll, performance management, onboarding, and sometimes even budget solutions. Re-engaging with employees takes time and effort, and if your HR department has neither of those resources, you have a problem.
Making changes as soon as possible can help employees and their families significantly, but it can also make a big difference to a brand’s health overall.
By outsourcing time-consuming tasks, HR is able to engage with employees, making people feel valued and listened to. When a company uses employee burnout solutions, it is sending a message — we hear you. Simply acknowledging people during a difficult time can be incredibly validating. And it's one way that brand advocates are born.
Engaging with burned-out employees opens up lines of dialogue that can help HR and other leaders see where they need to make improvements, and it allows HR to become a more engaged and strategic partner. By hearing feedback from employees and making improvements, their efforts will benefit not just existing employees but those future employees who might be looking at the company.
Re-engaging employees also generates enthusiasm, which is contagious. It builds a sense of cohesiveness between teammates and creates a more encouraging and motivated work environment that in turn helps drive success. Enthusiasm can also generate brand advocacy. Employees who feel valued at work start talking about their company in positive terms on social media, to friends and family, and even directly on job sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
Outsourcing isn't the magic solution to all business-related issues, but it does create space for change. And until you create that space, your margin for problem-solving will remain pretty small. When you bring in help, automate tasks, and offload monotonous work, however, you can begin relaying the foundation of your business.
A culture of transparency, fun, and integrity can be spotted from miles away, and it continues to grow as it's nurtured. According to a study by Gallup, companies with top-quartile engagement were linked to the lowest annual turnover—and this is a big deal. Engagement makes people more likely to stick around, and it’s what we’re all desperately craving right now.