Burnout is running rampant among U.S. workers according to a ComPsych survey released this month. Stress from the uncertainty of the economy, pay freezes, the looming threat of sequestration, the public’s negative perception of the government, and scandals have all taken their toll on the minds and wellbeing of workers. Although the survey seems to have focused on private sector workers, there is no doubt that the public sector is feeling just as beaten down. When a person experiences “burnout,” engagement is next to impossible. Simply showing up to work feels like an accomplishment—forget being engaged and productive! One of the scariest results from the survey is that 63% of respondents said they have “high levels of stress at work, with extreme fatigue and feeling out of control.” Stress, fatigue, and chaos make for a perfect storm resulting in burnout.
Managers, as leaders in their organization, must think of ways to rejuvenate this zombie-like workforce—indeed, a real zombie apocalypse may be upon us if the workforce continues feeling burned out. Organizations with such a significant portion of disengaged workers are almost guaranteed to fail. Government workers must find revitalization if this country’s most pressing, complex issues are to be solved. Managers need to dig deep and set an example of optimism and engagement even through these trying times. Using incentives could prove to be helpful in getting workers more engaged in their work. These incentives need not be monetary—even recognition and praise for good work, especially in the presence of one’s peers, is often enough to bring new life to the team. Taking an employee out to lunch after he or she accomplishes a challenging task is another great way to encourage engagement among a burned out workforce.
Although unnecessary, monetary incentives are likely to have a positive ROI, encouraging employees to strive to do their best. Organizations must not skimp out on investing in their employees, especially in light of how many workers feel burned out. Now more than ever, focusing efforts on rejuvenating the workforce is imperative. Engaged workers creating innovative solutions will carry us through our current difficulties; burned out workers might as well be zombies, draining the team more than contributing to it. Showing genuine concern for workers’ challenges during these difficult times and doing your best to work with them along with providing incentives for great work will help bring new life to your zombified team.