HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsOccupational burnout: A deterrence to productivity

Occupational burnout: A deterrence to productivity


SUCCESS LIFE:Jonah Nyoni / Roseline Maideyi

JUST imagine, you purchase a brand new Mercedes Benz and the manufacturer sets the service interval at 15 000km. A year later you start experiencing deteriorating performance, engine warning light frequently on, strange noises become familiar, smoking and steaming from the bonnet, you get vibrations and sounds when braking, speed starts picking up slower, it’s burning petrol quicker than before, instead of pumping clean droplets of water from the exhaust all you get is unpleasant exhaust fumes. You check your dashboard and eureka you know why. Service is due! Despite the clear warnings to service your vehicle, you convince yourself that the same old oil, filters and spark plugs will suffice even far beyond the 15 000km service mark. At 16 000km, your ill-serviced Benz develops new engine problems causing frequent breakdowns. Unfortunately if you do not act up and service it, your beautiful Benz will perform as good as engines during Charlie Chaplin’s era. What mechanics would call engine knocking in cars, we call burnout in humans.

Most business leaders know and honour the principles of mechanics, but amazingly they overlook the fact that everything in life needs servicing. This article isn’t about a Benz or mechanics, it’s about the need for constant evaluation in organisations. Poor management and poor maintenance can only lead to poor performance. Poor performance is expensive; it incurs a lot of opportunity costs. Such is what happens in organisations that fail to prioritise occupational safety and health. If the socio-economic welfare of employees is terrible, don’t expect them to meet performance objectives. You may structure the best KPIs for the organisation, but employees experiencing burnout will hardly meet their desired targets. Burnout is real! Just like a Benz overdue in service, employees whose needs aren’t met will struggle to perform.

Effects of occupational burnout to productivity
The socio-economic situation of our nation and the globe is vastly dynamic, constantly changing and very unpredictable. A typical example is the COVID-19 pandemic which affected business in many organisations, leading to stagnant salaries while leverage was sought through price hikes. This makes survival very difficult for employees whose salaries were slashed or not cushioned. The retrenchment of some workers during this era left a burden to employees who survived retrenchment due to short staffing which increases the workload on the remaining staff. This creates the monster we are talking about in this article, burnout.

Occupational burnout occurs when employees feel suffocated by too much workload or when their salaries are not guaranteeing them socio-economic survival. Occupational burnout also occurs when employees harbour a lot of grievances that are not considered or solved. Burnt out employees threaten the productivity and survival of any entity, a case study of our striking doctors evidences this. Burnt out doctors who are not happy with their salaries and welfare would rather strike, leaving the lives of patients at risk. Occupational burnout is a great deter to organisational productivity.

Organisational leaders should be proactive to ensure that their employees are happy and well taken care of. It takes motivation, happiness and contentment for an employee to work hard and reach maximum productivity.

Keeping your employees happy
The secret to organisational productivity is employee happiness. A business entity may have best products or services, best marketing strategies and so on, but as long as its employees are not happy and well-motivated to do the work, the organisation’s optimum performance will never be realised. Organisational leaders may then wonder how they can keep employees happy and satisfied. The answer to this is simple, business leaders should adjust their operations and innovate according to the changing environment. If the cost of living increases, employees should be given an increment or a cushion. The essence of people looking for jobs is to earn a living, everything else follows after. Thus, employers ought to constantly consider salary reviews to ensure that employees are paid enough to make a living.

A healthy and happy working environment is another condition that makes employees motivated to do their job, thus having a positive bearing on the organisation’s productivity. A healthy working environment minimises occupational hazards such as injuries and stress inflicted by bosses or superiors. Do you want to have productive workforce, then invest in it and create it.

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