Preventing employee burnout

Stressed out employees are generally cynical and disgruntled; they have depleted their stores of emotional resources to cope with their work environment and have given up trying to do more than the bare minimum. Here are seven ways to make sure you don’t burnout your team members:

  1. Make sure everyone knows precisely what is expected of them and why it’s important.
  2. Be realistic when you delegate tasks; it’s okay to challenge people but not to overwhelm them.
  3. Delegate according to peoples’ areas of interest.
  4. Don’t insist on or expect unpaid overtime as a matter of course.
  5. Discourage a culture of working through breaks; that does nothing for productivity and prevents people from recharging their batteries.
  6. Provide the resources (time, tools, equipment, information etc.) people need to do their jobs properly.
  7. Remember that a little bit of fun goes a long way to a productive work environment.
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And the winners are…

Grocon Constructors, a Victorian company, was the winner of the 2012 7th Annual Safe Work Australia Awards for Best Workplace Health and Safety Management System, private sector. They have integrated their safety management system across their entire organisation and created a solid safety culture through all levels of the company. In the public sector, the award went to Energex, which manages energy distribution networks in South East Queensland. Their ability to successfully manage large and unpredictable events such as the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi, testified to the quality of its health and safety management systems.

The Australian Reinforcing Company (ARC), which manufactures and distributes reinforcing steel to the construction industry, won the award for the Best Solution to an Indentified Workplace Health and Safety Issue for their innovative solutions to three hazards in manufacturing steel. Their solutions addressed manual handling, falls and crushing and can be easily applied across the steel and construction industries.

Best Workplace Health And Safety Practices in a small business went to South Australia’s The Hub Fruit Bowl, a small family business. Consistency, rather than any earth-shatteringly clever innovations, underlies their award-winning approach: ensuring every employee is properly trained in the comprehensive health and safety system they developed, and encouraging them to ask questions about safety and report hazards.

Seaman Natalie Irvine of the Royal Australian Navy won the award for Best Individual Contribution to Workplace Health and Safety. She identified a number of errors in safety instructions and, demonstrating perseverance to overcome the barriers of rank, ensured they were fixed, improving the safety of Australia’s fleet.

Questions for discussion

Congratulations to the award winners. How award-worthy are the health and safety systems and practices at your workplace? What can you do to make your work team more safety conscious and strengthen its safety culture?

Continuously improving safety

Writing in the July 2012 Safe Work Australia newsletter, Minister Bill Shorten notes Australia’s progress in improving the health and safety of our employees. but, with 216 people dying every week from work-related injuries (2009 – 2010 figures), we still have a long way to go.

The Minister points to communication as a key driver in improving workplace health and safety and reminds us that employees need to feel they can raise safety issues without fear of discrimination or ridicule and in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously and dealt with promptly.

The ‘inside knowledge’ of the people doing the job too often remains an untapped resource. Teams that abide by the continuous improvement imperative discuss ways to make even small improvements to everything they do and how they approach their work, and this includes health and safety matters as much as anything else.

Question for discussion

So let’s add to our continuous improvement questions (How can we do this better? Cheaper? Faster? More easily?) another question: How can we do this more safely?

When was the last time you and your team discussed how to improve the way you work and how to make your work safer?