Are You Overworking Your Employees?

overworking your employees

When you last strolled around your workplace, did you notice any difference in the environment? Did you get a sense that your employees felt stressed-out (or more so than usual)? Were people less friendly than in the past? Was some sort of “siege mentality vibe” present in the air?

Having an overworked or burned-out workforce comes with risks no business owner can afford to ignore. Above and beyond the problems this can cause a business internally, there’s also the possibility that overworked employees can lead to the manufacture of inferior products and services, as well as growing customer dissatisfaction with your business.

That’s why it’s so important to notice “red flags” suggesting overworked employees and take action before any serious damage occurs.

Here are warning signs to watch for:

1. A change in attitude and engagement. You know who your most upbeat and positive employees are. If these hard-working individuals exhibit signs of burnout, don’t pretend that all is OK. Look for employees who eagerly participate in meetings, but now sit back, arms crossed and remain silent throughout the discussion.

In the same respect, pay attention when employees who are known for never complaining about work conditions begin to grumble about “always feeling behind” or “never having enough time” to get their work done. Of course, some of these individuals may never speak up, but if you get the feeling they’re avoiding you (because they don’t want to get stuck with more work assignments), that’s another clear warning sign of trouble ahead.

2. Employees are working longer hours. Let’s assume for the moment that business owners are generally the first ones in the office each day and the last to leave. Have you noticed that some employees are already at their desk when you walk in the door or that some are still at their desk when you’re getting ready to leave? This is a clear indicator people are putting in hours well above a “normal” 40-hour workweek—yet another indication of looming employee burnout.

3. Absenteeism rates increase. Sometimes employees send the message they’re feeling overworked by simply taking more days off than usual. Often, there’s a good reason they’ve decided to stay home; workplace stress is causing them to lose sleep, eat poorly and experience more anxiety than they can handle.

4. Employees are leaving your business. High turnover may be the most clear-cut sign of employee burnout. If you feel you have good managers in place, then it’s time to look at burnout as a key reason for a mass employee exodus.

What can you do to combat these alarming trends?

5. Find out what’s going on. Invite employees to talk to you about their working conditions. If they’re reluctant to discuss the situation, “ask questions that allow him or her to bring up the possibility of burnout,” advises business writer Katie Douthwaite Wolf. “Try: ‘What do you have on your plate right now—and if you had the choice, how would you change it?’” Let them know you want an honest appraisal of their workload, so you can work together to address the problem.

6. Assist with prioritizing job duties. Employees who feel overwhelmed may need assistance in prioritizing all the assignments they face. As part of your discussion, encourage them to openly discuss everything on their plate and then collaborate on creating a reasonable schedule for achieving the most important tasks first, and everything else later. Make clear that, as far as you’re concerned, doing the best job they can is more important than trying to do everything and having little to show for it.

7. Encourage (and model) a healthy balance of work and life. An effective leader always advocates for a healthy work-life balance for their employees. “As long as they are getting results, don’t balk if they leave early to hit the gym,” says workplace expert Alexandra Levit.

Also, remember that employees look to you as a model of proper workplace conduct. There’s no question that entrepreneurs and CEOs are challenged to find the right balance between their businesses and their health and personal lives. But making this a top priority in your own life sends the message that you want employees to do the same themselves—thus, promoting better health and reducing stress and burnout on the job.

Do you believe employees are among your company’s most important resources? If so, do everything in your power to keep them from succumbing to burnout.

 

How to Treat Recruiting Like a Sales Process

recruiting, human resources, finding top talent, recruiting when people are scarce

In the fevered competition to recruit and hire “A-player” job candidates, many recruiters and HR departments are turning to a different model to get the job done. Imposing the structure of a sales process offers a new way to look at recruitment in general, and how to better position their own companies in particular. This approach might well be the answer to your own recruiting challenges.

Here’s a look at how taking a sales approach to hiring can work for your business:

Adapt elements of sales to recruiting. Your sales team follows a rigorous process of cultivating, nurturing and converting sales leads. With a little imagination, your in-house recruiter can adapt many of these same elements for the hiring process. HR thought leader Kim Shepherd advises following these “sales-like” steps:

  • Define the value proposition of your company for job candidates.
  • Reconfigure that value proposition into an appealing message.
  • Disseminate that message to targeted prospects via job boards, social media, etc.
  • Qualify and manage “candidate leads” as they come in.
  • Pursue the most promising candidates and close the deal.

Look at your applicant tracking system as “more than storage for archiving resumes,” Shepherd writes. Use it to “build and manage a pipeline, including measuring leads, tracking conversion rates and even creating the recruitment version of a sales forecast.” In this way you develop clear-cut metrics, including job candidate targets and deliverables.

Act like a high-performing salesperson. The best members of your sales team diligently stay on top of everything happening in the industry—reading blog posts and articles, reviewing trade publications, looking closely at potential clients’ websites and so on.

They also maintain an active presence on social media, passing along helpful links, connecting with influencers and sharing news about your company without openly engaging in a “sales pitch” to job candidates. “Don’t fall in the trap of tweeting sales jobs! Jobs! and more Jobs!” warns Live and Learn Consultancy LTD. “It’s not authentic and guess what, no one listens.”

Become a pro at selling your company. Here’s an area where many businesses can improve their odds of “bagging” the candidates they truly want. Look at the situation from the job-seeker’s perspective and develop compelling answers to these questions:

  • Why should I want to work for your company?
  • What does your company offer that I can’t find at one of your competitors?
  • What growth opportunities do you offer?
  • How do you foresee the company growing in the near future in ways that benefit me and other potential employees?

These are variations on the types of questions prospective clients ask of any company seeking their business. You’ll see greater interest among job applicants if you answer these questions in an authentic and inspiring manner.

Show off your culture. Just as a salesperson might give a potential client a tour of your business—in order to demonstrate how the culture is geared towards serving customers’ needs—so a recruiter should be prepared to show off your culture to achieve similar results.

Of course, candidates will get a taste of your workplace environment when they show up for an interview, so it’s imperative that they leave with a favorable first impression. Put together a “package tour” so candidates meet your best, most outgoing employees, get the chance to see your technology at work and get a feel for what’s going on. In many ways, this experience might be the “close” to your sales approach.

Finally, even if things don’t work out, be sure to end the budding relationship on a positive note. No one wants a disgruntled job applicant tweeting and posting unfavorable comments about your company based on a bad interview or recruiting experience. You never know when a candidate who wasn’t the right fit might (because he or she remembers how pleasant and approachable your recruiters were) refer a friend or colleague who turns out to be precisely the A-player employee you’re looking for.

Need more help finding top talent? Join us Tuesday, November 22, 2016, for our Business Owner Success Series webinar on “Recruiting When People Are Scarce.”