Healthy, energetic, and focused employees are both more effective and more engaged than tired, stressed, and distracted employees. Much of the onus lies on the employee to maintain and improve their own well-being by eating healthy foods, being active, and getting enough sleep each night. Yet, work factors also have a big impact on employee well-being, and organizations can play a critical role by fostering a work environment that supports well-being and better employee experiences. A key component for achieving a healthy work environment is leadership. Recent research indicates leaders play a critical role in improving their employee’s well-being by decreasing emotional exhaustion – a key component of burnout experienced by 77% of US employees.
Emotional exhaustion is something most of us have experienced at one point or another to some degree. It is a depletion of energy and the wish that we did not have to go back to the dreaded grind of work the next day. Despite feeling drained, a person experiencing emotional exhaustion will often find it hard to sleep. The resulting insomnia leaves their mind unable to perform even basic functions like concentrating on tasks and remembering information. If experienced long enough physical symptoms may emerge such as headaches, chest pain, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath, as well as serious psychological health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Emotional exhaustion is unpleasant for an individual, and important to address for that reason alone. However, emotionally exhausted employees are also a serious detriment to the functioning of an organization. Research reports that emotionally exhausted employees are less committed to their organizations, perform worse, engage in less helping behaviors for their supervisors and the organization as a whole, are more likely to report looking for employment elsewhere, and thus are more likely to quit. Despite the negative repercussions for both the individual and the organization, 70% of employees report that their organizations are not doing enough to prevent emotional exhaustion and the subsequent burnout it creates. So how can an organization seek to reduce the experience of burnout or emotional exhaustion more specifically?
Leaders can have help reducing emotional exhaustion by focusing on providing three specific work ‘resources’.