How can facility managers help prevent worker burnout?

The World Health Organisation recently recognised burnout as an "occupational phenomenon" and defined it as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

The organization said burnout is classified by three factors which include feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, as well as reduced professional efficacy.

So, what can FMs do to help workers who may be feeling burnout symptoms?


Talk about professional burnout 

If facilities managers talk about burnout and even distribute literature or put up signage about it, they can create an environment where employees can openly and honestly communicate how they are feeling about their workload, responsibilities and their work-life balance.  If professional burnout is a routine and normalised topic of discussion, it will be easier for employees to talk about it and for managers to recognise the causes and warning signs, and present solutions to help them deal with it.


Organise stress-relieving activities and a social support network

Sometimes the most banal activities can actually be the simple tools that counter stress. For instance, organising a team lunch, or a company yoga day, or a massage hour— all can help break up stress for workers. Workplace managers can also develop stronger social support systems at work by creating occasions to socialize during and outside of work. Happy hours, social networking, lunch events and being proactive about casually striking up conversations. An organization must avoid reaching a point where its workplace manager, or team, has such severe burnout that they have reached the point of no return. This can lead to issues with absenteeism, high turnover rates and poor work performance. If social activities are integrated into an office’s functions, a work environment can actually help to provide a counter to stress.


Use the appropriate operational and maintenance software 

If a company is relying on manual management and tracking, or on working with an out of date FM system— then facilities managers could be putting extra time into the job, when they could otherwise be investing this time on other work tasks. Many tasks these days can be automated, and the right software and technology (e.g. IoT) will mean FMs have better overall visibility of assets, and the information related to them. It also means employees can use specialized service request tools to quickly make on-demand requests, rather than having to call a FM directly to report an incident on every occasion. It also means office spaces, including conference rooms, multimedia rooms and other collaborative spaces can be reserved and managed with greater ease. By using these kinds of technologies, FMs jobs can be made easier, facilitating them to focus on looking after the staff's well-being.


Workstation design

When FMs design workstations, they need to think about who will be using those stations because just as some jobs are more suited for quiet spaces and privacy, others require a lot of interaction. Thought has to be given to how different personality types may thrive in workstations with more or less privacy. For instance, it may not be the best idea to place introverts and extroverts side by side. Generational factors may also come into play, with older demographics coming to expect their own, private space in order to get more work done.


Encouraging work/life balance

FMs need to ensure that their teams unplug from work and leave the office at a designated hour. That means no work-related text messages, calls or emails while a crew member is at home for the night, taking a sick day or away on vacation. Exercise can also promote a better work/life balance by helping to reduce stress, as well as increasing productivity and boosting morale. A company could install a gym onsite to promote this idea, or arrange to be able to offer a discounted membership to a gym nearby. Additionally, a kitchen with healthy food options can help prevent unhealthy snacking for workers who may need to work early or late hours.


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