All employees feel some stress in their jobs from time to time. Big projects and new initiatives require extra effort that can be overwhelming. But your technology team is especially prone to overwork as they power through sprint after sprint, manage multiple mission-critical projects, and stay late to meet release deadlines. In today’s world, the increasing pace of change is forcing tech teams to push harder and deliver more than ever before.
When employees aren’t given time to themselves to rest or recharge, constant strain can lead to burnout—now recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases as an occupational phenomenon that may lead people to seek treatment from healthcare providers.
The WHO handbook characterizes burnout by:
feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job
reduced professional efficacy
Sound familiar? Don’t let burnout destroy the health of your organization. Here are a few of the signs to watch out for on your team:
1. Higher turnover
Turnover happens on any technology team. But an uptick in your turnover rate may signal that employees are increasingly tired and looking for more rewarding opportunities elsewhere.
2. Decrease in work quality
An increase in glitches, bugs or code smells, or a failure to meet code requirements, can be an indication that members of your team are disengaging from their projects and taking less pride in what they produce.
3. Increase in absenteeism
Unhappy employees take more than ten times the number of sick days per year as workers who are happy at work. Rather than put in another unrewarding day, some employees take “sick” days just to get time away from overwhelming projects.
4. Increase in presenteeism
Not all disengaged staff members skip work. Some employees still show up even if they have an illness or other medical condition. If your team members feel pressure to come into work when they are physically or mentally unwell, it may be a sign to lighten the load.
5. Decreased productivity and missed deadlines
A common response to work fatigue is disconnecting from deadlines. Researchers have found that unhappy workers are 10% less productive than their peers. Tasks are completed slowly, creating bottlenecks and hurting timelines.
6. Poor internal relationships
Your team often works closely with employees from other areas in your organization. When employees feel strain, these interactions can turn negative, creating conflicts with co-workers and others.
7. Monopolizing manager time
Are your employees trying to get you to notice their situation? Burned out workers can lack motivation, asking for additional (and often unnecessary) direction or help with projects they can easily complete on their own.
8. Lack of participation
When employees feel unappreciated and despondent, they may react by opting out of casual business relationships. They don’t make time for spontaneous collaboration or participate in meetings.
9. Falling morale
Employees who are overworked tend to be more negative, impatient and cynical. This often impacts others on their team and soon everyone is more disagreeable and less happy with their work environment.
The price of burnout has never been higher
Too much stress, not enough time to recharge, and demanding work conditions can all contribute to employee burnout. And technology workers are especially susceptible to all three. In the age of digital transformation, every successful organization needs happy, healthy and productive technology talent. But if you’re not keeping a close eye on it, burnout will compromise your team’s effectiveness—and your organization’s ability to compete in the future.
Learn more about creating a work environment that motivates your employees.
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