From ongoing labor shortages to COVID-induced supply chain disruptions and delays, there are numerous reasons why employee burnout has become a worldwide concern across countless industries — especially HVAC and plumbing. With many technicians stretched across increasingly overwhelming amounts of service calls and projects, it's sadly unsurprising that your team has also begun to suffer from burnout.
Employees impacted by burnout undergo an unhealthy amount of stress, which can contribute to poor productivity and, in turn, unsafe working conditions for themselves, their teammates, and their clients. Keep reading to learn more about correctly identifying employee burnout, the impact it can have on operations, and the top tips to prevent it.
Identifying the Signs of Employee Burnout
Burnout refers to a state of chronic job stress that results in long-term exhaustion and a negative attitude that affects both personal and work life. Unfortunately, all too often, employees avoid any sort of conversation surrounding burnout in fear of negative repercussions from management — and they continue to work through burnout, which can lead to even more harmful effects.
Because burnout significantly affects technician health and safety, company operators must identify the signs of employee burnout. Most commonly, employees suffering from burnout will appear disengaged while in the workplace and will often demonstrate a general loss of enthusiasm for their position. In addition, signs of burnout often include missed meetings or phone calls, delayed communication, and decreased customer satisfaction on service calls.
Employees undergoing feelings of burnout will also encounter increased absenteeism or a recurring need to go home early to reduce mental and physical exhaustion. Burnout may also cause employees to isolate themselves during their time in the workplace and can influence some individuals to become highly irritable with surrounding employees and even customers.
How Burnout Can Impact Operations
The primary risk burnout poses to HVAC operations is unsafe working conditions for the burnt-out employee, their teammates, and the clients they serve. In addition, absenteeism while on the job and exhaustion-induced errors can significantly harm the technicians on site or damage a client's home or business. These issues could explain why another significant impact of burnout is decreased productivity.
Exhausted employees are simply less able to meet the demands of their position. With a surplus of unhappy, fatigued employees comes a lack of general effort, which leads to a decrease in the quality of services provided to customers. Burnt-out employees operating around customers also tend to conduct themselves more aggressively or not in a way that represents your brand.
When combined with the fact that burnt-out employees run a higher risk of service and installation errors, it's clear that burnout can potentially pose both safety and legal threats to your employees and customers. In addition, technicians who are less productive, less positive, and all-around less personable are likely to create decreased levels of customer satisfaction.
Once customer satisfaction begins to take a blow, it's likely burnout among your operations team can provoke an onslaught of negative reviews. Negative reviews can significantly impact an HVAC or plumbing company's overall reputation. In addition, they can cause declining revenue and customer acquisition in the long term when nothing is done to address them.
3 Tips for Reducing and Preventing Employee Burnout
With the dangers of employee burnout in mind, you may be wondering what you can do to fix it. While employers can't always control outside influences, such as a local shortage of technicians or operational delays, these three tips can help curb burnout from an internal operational standpoint.
1. Prioritize Wellbeing in Company Culture
In an industry that requires employees to commit to lengthy and physically straining workdays, one of the most critical steps to prevent burnout is to make personal well-being a prioritized aspect of company culture. Creating a workplace that supports employee well-being and provides the necessary resources to maintain it contributes to a healthy and preferred workplace.
Hold a meeting to discuss with employees the importance of bringing awareness to operational concerns that can be causing burnout amongst your team. Offer solutions such as mental health days or counseling to those in need as a healthy way to combat burnout. Also, promote a balanced work-life workplace that promises reasonable hours and the flexible use of vacation and sick days.
2. Train Managers to Identify Burnout
For larger-scale HVAC and plumbing businesses, it can be challenging for company owners to keep employees engaged and motivated all by themselves. To prevent company-wide employee burnout, incorporate managers into your prevention efforts and offer general tips and training they can use to identify and reduce burnout concerns across teams proactively and more effectively.
Whether the office manager or technician manager, these individuals are responsible for maintaining a positive workflow and company culture for their team. Managers must also distribute and manage tasks fairly to ensure each employee has a reasonable amount of work. This effort to balance workloads helps prevent feelings of overwhelming expectations that can further contribute to employee burnout.
3. Don't Insert Your Own Stress
We get it — as an HVAC or plumbing company owner or manager, you may often find yourself at a dead end, overwhelmed with service requests and customer expectations. However, the answer to this issue isn't to simply put all of the pressure on your employees. As the most valuable asset to your company, employees must be the first consideration when making any business decision.
From agreeing to large-scale client projects to estimating job completion timing, it's essential to first consider your employees' mental and physical health before making any decision that involves their assistance. When faced with a stressful business decision, selfishly pushing your employees to accomplish an already overwhelming task creates a stressful workplace and impacts the quality of work your company provides.
Extinguish Employee Burnout Today
Every company operator strives to provide an enjoyable workplace that appreciates technicians for their daily hard work. A thorough understanding of burnout and how it can impact operations allows operators to implement successful mitigation strategies. Extinguishing employee burnout can boost productivity and enhance technician and customer satisfaction and safety.
Vice President of Sales at JB Warranties