Thousands of workers leave their job every year due to a number of factors, chief among them is burnout and lack of a sense of belonging at work. I’ve written extensively about belonging and found this: Everyone wants to belong and feel like others (even employers) care about them, value their contributions, and want them to succeed.
Turnover occurs because workers feel isolated, abandoned, unsupported, and under- appreciated at work. All of this can lead to burnout—or the deeply disillusioned feeling that one is overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated, which gives way to loss of enthusiasm about one’s work. In fact, workplace polls indicate that 70% of workers complain that there are “not enough hours in a day” to get their work done. Two-thirds of workers feel undervalued and have not been recognized in recent years for their contributions.
In fact, workplace polls indicate that 70% of workers complain that there are “not enough hours in a day” to get their work done. Two-thirds of workers feel undervalued and have not been recognized in recent years for their contributions.
To improve staff retention, there are several things that employers can do according to my research and experience. To deal with staff feeling overworked, employers can create systems and reorganize to ensure that work is distributed equitably. Conducting a workload audit where staff submit calendars showing their work duties over at least two weeks and analyzing each to identify variance in number of projects managed, balance of down time, client interfacing, and sheer numbers of hours work daily can be an effective strategy. Developing an employee recognition program (e.g., Cheers for Peers) or an incentive-based award can improve feedback and feeling valued on the job. In my own experience, I have nominated staff for regional and professional awards or professional development opportunities as a way of acknowledging their potential, encouraging professional growth, and celebrating their contributions to the team.
A year ago, I was hired to help an association determine “risk factors” for burnout among educational counselors. Apart from phone interviews, I developed a simple survey to gather information. Drawing on items from publicly-available tools, I created a short SurveyMonkey form that asked staff to use a scale 1 to 5 to rate their feelings about: “I feel run down and drained of physical and emotional energy at work” or “I have negative thoughts about my job” or “I feel misunderstood or unappreciated by my co-workers.” I shared aggregate results in a keynote at a conference and facilitated a conversation with association leaders about creative ways to reduce burnout, improve morale, increase happiness, and boost retention. I look forward to sharing my insight from that survey in future blogs and research briefs. Stay tuned!