Using Resource Planning As A Tool For Preventing Employee Burnout
Employee burnout seems to be one of the biggest problems for managers to handle theses days. While burning out at your job can be affected by many factors that you as a manager can't change, there are still few things that you can do. Since resource planning dictates the schedules of your employees, it's a huge part of your team's day.
The first step of using resource planning as a tool for preventing employee burnout is knowing the reasons behind burning out and noticing the tendencies in your team. The second step is using the magic of a resource scheduling tool to vanish those tendencies.
According to a study published by BMC Public Health, there are three types of people that burn out:
- First is the frenetic employee. This type of employee tends to burn out because they are just too overwhelmed with their tasks since they are driven by efficiency. They are the people that you would call workaholics - they just work and work until they are all out of energy.
- The second is the under-challenged employee. There’s no mystery behind why they’ll burn out - their job just doesn’t have enough developments for them and they’ll get bored.
- The third is the worn-out employee. The worn-out type just feels neglected and underappreciated. They feel like they don’t have a grip on what’s going on and that’s what’s going to push them towards the burnout.
MAKE A SCHEDULE THAT’S FLEXIBLE ENOUGH TO ALLOW BREAKS
Favor scheduling longer tasks to the really short ones. For example, if you have multiple tasks that have to be done by Friday, schedule them as week-long concurrent tasks instead of trying to divide them between the days. That way the person can choose when they are working on which task and can take breaks when needed.
In addition to making a flexible schedule, actually, encourage your team to take breaks. About a half of the employees in the US feel like they don’t have enough time to take breaks. Having lunch while answering emails is not a good practice. Neither is postponing a vacation since there’s just too much work. Having too much stuff to do will translate into stress and that stress will translate in your employees burning out real quick.
Everybody needs some time off work but since we live in an era where it’s super cool to be busy and to have endless to-do lists, managers should be the delegates of taking breaks.
KEEP THE RESOURCE UTILIZATION OPTIMAL
We don’t have those utilization percentages and capacity utilization graphs up in our resource scheduling software for nothing. They are actually pretty useful in case you are trying to plan resources in a way that would prevent employee burnout.
After you have set your employees’ working hours, the percentage will show you the utilization of each resource in the period you have open in the Gantt chart area. If it’s over 100, make adjustments. In addition to that, you should make sure that what you think is optimal is actually optimal. If you think a task should take X amount of time and it actually takes X+2 amounts of time, you are doing it wrong.
Lucky for you, our resource planning software allows you to track the actual time spent on completing a task. You can use reports to see if you made a mistake and under- or over-estimated tasks’ length, and fix it the next time around.
And remember that overtime should be an exception, not the rule. If it your team keeps logging over hours, there’s something seriously wrong about how you are scheduling resources or there is a serious shortage of resource which probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you.
Nevertheless, you should deal with it because your overwhelmed employees can turn into someone else’s happy employees and that’s probably not something you want. Because you want them to be your happy employees, right?
MAKE SURE YOU RECOGNIZE YOUR EMPLOYEES FOR THEIR EFFORTReports aren't only for reporting project progress to the upper management. Reports are also good for noticing the busiest bees in the team. Establish an employee recognition program. Encourage peer recognition. Celebrate even the smallest victories.
Recognizing those that deserve to be recognized boosts productivity and is a fire extinguisher for those that tend to burn out because they feel underappreciated. So if you want less tension in the office, fewer errors, and better customer service together with lower staff turnover, you need to recognize those that make the plans you make into reality one task at the time.
ENCOURAGE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
We know it’s not actually resource planning and you can’t use software for it. However, if you are a manager and it’s in your power to motivate your team in any way, encouraging physical activity should be on your list. If your company has some sort of sports or fitness compensation, encourage your team to use it.
Why? Physical activity is the magical remedy to many mental health problems, including employee burnout. We can only wish that our caveman ancestors would have been sitting around in a cave by a rock. But noooo - those little rascals just had to wander around to hunt, and gather berries. And now we have to live with it. If we try to spend our days in front of a computer and pass those walks we take to the bathroom or the kitchen as a physical, our brain gets cranky.
This is why the office-based work setting kind of sucks. There is not much need for moving around, the need our cavemen ancestors left us with. But who knows - maybe there’s still some hope, and the evolution stuff that got us here will get us to a place we want to be. Which is, of course, a place where our brain understands that sitting actually feels pretty good. But until then - encourage physical activity.
Even if it’s a bit of walking. If you are going out for lunch, don’t take the car. Start a competition in the office to find out who can take the most steps in a day. Start with the small stuff.
SCHEDULE CHALLENGING TASKS
Not only should you schedule the optimal amount of tasks, you should schedule tasks that are challenging enough. As said before, finding the right task and resource match is kind of essential. The unchallenged employee actually wants you to plan more demanding tasks for them. It can be a bit tricky if you have a lot of repetitive tasks but remember that not everyone is feeling unchallenged.
Not everyone wants to squeeze some extra challenge juice out of their work. So you have to know your team well enough to make that distinction. Aaah, isn’t it great to be a manager? You have to be able to detect that spark made of productivity in someone’s eye before they know it’s there themselves.
Well, actually you can ask them, too. But it’s just so much cooler to be a psychic. Whether you are going to decide to be cool or not, you really have to learn how to give more responsibility to those who need it.