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How to Prevent Burnout in Tech

8 Nov 22 by Sourced

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Shifting responsibilities and increased workloads in the post-pandemic world have led to growing concerns about the rise of burnout in tech.  


Hard-working professionals, especially those with perfectionistic and conscientious traits, are at higher risk of developing burnout, a UNSW and Black Dog Institute study found. With the fast-paced nature of many technology and IT jobs, it’s hardly surprising that the passionate and driven types who are drawn to these roles can be most vulnerable.


Research is also indicating employers in New Zealand simply cannot afford to overlook burnout. AUT Business School’s Wellbeing@Work study found the proportion of New Zealand workers with a high burnout risk increased by an alarming 72.5% between April and November 2021.


For employees who work from home, the risk of burnout was 197% higher, suggesting the blurring of work and home life has presented challenges for many professionals.


Recognising the effects of excessive stress and prioritising employee health and wellbeing are the best starting points for tackling tech industry burnout. So, what does burnout look like in the workplace and how should it be addressed?

Signs of Burnout

Workers with burnout report feeling constantly exhausted, anxious and overwhelmed by their jobs. It’s critical to note that burnout is more complex than a state of exhaustion alone. Feeling negative, cynical or detached from work (sometimes referred to as ‘depersonalisation’) is another key symptom, along with being unable to control emotions such as crying or being easily irritable.


Employees experiencing burnout are more distracted, have poor attention to detail, make more errors and are less engaged at work. The risk of burnout increases when people have a large workload, feel under-supported by their managers or colleagues or feel they don’t have the skills or capabilities to do their job.

Tackling Burnout in the Long-Term

Burnout can increase absenteeism, decrease productivity and impact staff retention, so there are sound business reasons for ensuring it doesn’t take hold among your team. Here are a few actionable tips for employers to manage workplace stress before it becomes problematic.


1.      Talk to Employees Privately

Some people feel uncomfortable opening up in a group meeting, so scheduling regular catch-ups with each team member is a better way to uncover any issues they might be having.


Make it clear to employees you’re willing to listen and provide support if they’re facing challenges. Note that burnout can stem from life at home and not just work, so asking open-ended questions can help you avoid making assumptions. 


2.      Provide More Flexibility

Company policies that allow for flexible hours and work locations can play a major role in preventing burnout in tech. While some workplaces have less leeway on flexible work hours, finding ways to be more generous with schedules is usually possible. Ask employees what works for them!


Offering people options to work in-office, remotely or both is another way to keep burnout at bay. They can enjoy the benefits of changing up their work environment, reducing commuting time and better juggling commitments at home and work.  


3.      Build a Supportive Work Culture

Sometimes a crazy workload is unavoidable, but it is wise to pause and reflect when it becomes the norm. If workloads are untenable, that might be a sign to either hire more employees, redistribute tasks, outsource a function or adjust KPIs.


Technology and IT jobs attract a fair amount of hardworking and driven people, which is even more of a reason to encourage employees to say ‘no’ and delegate when needed. Don’t forget to give credit to employees when it’s due – recognising colleagues with thank-you gifts, social events and awards will help them feel recognised.


4.      Promote Self-Care

No strategy to combat tech industry burnout is complete without an actual health and wellbeing focus. You can motivate team members to take regular breaks during the workday and to go on vacations instead of allowing holiday leave to accumulate. Allowing people a ‘mental health day’ now and then also won’t hurt!


Other ways to help employees manage stress can include access to employee assistance programs, counselling, meditation and mindfulness sessions. Consider how technology used in the workplace may contribute to burnout so you can take steps to minimise practices that can cause fatigue. You could do this by instituting a ‘no video calls’ day each week and discouraging employees from sending emails outside of business hours. Reminding people to switch off each day is integral for positive mental health.

Summary

The fact that tech industry burnout is gaining more attention is ultimately a good sign as there is no treatment or prevention without awareness. With some practical approaches and open communication, employers can nurture their teams’ wellbeing without impacting productivity.

Speaking to technology and digital recruitment experts can give you further insight into how burnout is affecting the technology talent market and motivating candidates in their job search.


Are you looking for tech talent to drive your business? At Sourced, we work hard to help employers in Auckland, Christchurch and beyond to find the skilled professionals they need. Contact us today to start hiring.