Employee burnout — it’s a real thing, and it drives your staff away faster than you can say “busy season.” From November through March, employees at propane companies across the country juggle multiple job titles, various responsibilities and long to-do lists. It’s easy to see why staff can become overwhelmed and experience burnout that affects their morale and your company’s productivity.
Consider The Effects of Employee Burnout
We see the negative effects of burnout every day, such as employees dreading coming to work, not speaking positively about their job to their peers and having a poor work-life balance by stressing about work responsibilities during off-hours. But have you considered how it impacts your company?
Along with overall morale dropping, burnout also causes a huge safety issue. It’s dangerous to have exhausted drivers on the road or technicians working on heating equipment when their minds are elsewhere.
Preventing burnout is in your best interest, no matter how you look at things. Let’s dive into how you can evaluate your current “preventing burnout” strategy and craft a proactive plan to make next year even better.
Debrief: How’s Your Current Strategy Working?
If you’re feeling burned out, you can bet your employees are, too. If you asked your team today, how many would honestly tell you they aren’t experiencing burnout to some degree? Do they feel tired, lethargic and unmotivated to complete their tasks? Remember, burned-out employees are inefficient employees. Unless most employees are energized and confident about how operations are running, you have some work to do.
Focus on Workforce Retention
Your current employees are your biggest asset. Encourage team members to book a week-long vacation now for March or April after the busy season comes to a close. Get them to plan their vacations now for a time when you anticipate fewer delivery requests and service calls. This offers something they can look forward to, with the time off already approved and vacation plans in motion.
Do what you can to keep morale up. Be generous with pats on the back for good work. Buy pizza on a Friday afternoon. Bring your team coffee and donuts on a Monday morning. It’s the little things that make the difference, and they don’t have to cost a lot. Consider other easy and affordable ways to show your gratitude. Then, make them happen.
Plan Ahead for Next Year
Proactivity is your best weapon when it comes to preventing burnout in the workplace. Here are some tips to help your next heating season go more smoothly than ever before.
1. Never go into the busy season short-staffed — You know you’re going to be busy; if you need additional support or you’re short-staffed anywhere in your organization, start the search early. This helps reduce employee burnout and improves your ROI by allowing you to pay straight time instead of overtime. Hold focus groups with employees of each job position at your company. Drivers and technicians, for example, are alone for a large portion of their working hours. That’s a lot of time for them to get in their own heads about areas where your company needs improvement, which they will stew over if not given the chance to express their feelings. Focus groups only take around 20 minutes each and can make a huge difference. Allow your team members to share their thoughts by asking questions such as:
- What wastes your time when we get busy?
- If you had my job and could change one thing to improve efficiency, what would it be?
- What would make your job easier during the busy season?
2. Plan your training calendar now — Giving your team ample notice about when training is happening and what will be covered is a great way to show you are prepared to set your employees up for success.
Commit to Workforce Development
One of the most common reasons employees feel burned out is that there is too much work to be done and not enough hands on deck to meet deadlines. Fortunately, the fix is an easy one.
Committing to workforce development and new hires is the best thing you can do for your existing team members, your bottom line and the future of your company. There are a variety of ways to tackle workforce development and finding qualified new hires, such as posting on job websites, reaching out to CDL schools in your community and using workforce development platforms specialized for the propane industry. Use technology to your advantage.
Foster an environment of retention while performing local outreach for new employees, and you will be on the right path to preventing burnout when the next busy season rolls around.