Combating Employee Burnout With AI And Future Of Work Policies

by | Oct 4, 2023 | Artificial Intelligence, AI, Employee Well-being, Employees, Health, Performance Management, Performance Reviews, Productivity, Work Design

In the rapidly evolving landscape of today’s workforce, employee burnout has emerged as a pressing concern. The relentless pace, excessive demands, and constant connectivity have taken a toll on the well-being of employees.

However, the synergy of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and forward-thinking Future of Work policies offers a promising path to mitigate burnout, improve employee engagement and enhance productivity.

The Growing Burnout Crisis

Burnout is an occupational phenomenon. It is driven by a chronic imbalance between job demands (for example: workload pressure, understaffing, and poor working environment) and job resources (for example: job autonomy, and supportive work relationships).

According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome associated with chronic stress in the workplace that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

Before we explore solutions, it’s crucial to understand the gravity of the burnout issue.

76% of employees experience workplace burnout at least sometimes. While 40% of US employees say their job is negatively impacting their mental health.

Toxic workplace behavior is the biggest driver of negative workplace outcomes, such as burnout and intent to leave. And burnout is not simply inconvenient, poor well-being affects the bottom line through lower productivity, higher turnover, higher absenteeism, and higher medical costs (due to preventable conditions).

Employee burnout costs organizations 15%-20% of total payroll in voluntary turnover costs alone, on average, due to burnout.

Leveraging AI For Employee Wellness

Artificial Intelligence holds immense potential to address employee burnout head-on. Here are ways AI can make a difference:

Personalized Workloads

AI algorithms can analyze individual work patterns and preferences, allowing organizations to optimize workloads. This prevents overburdening and ensures that each employee’s skills are utilized to the fullest, resulting in increased job satisfaction.

Predictive Analytics

AI can process vast amounts of data to predict when an employee might be approaching burnout. Early detection enables organizations to intervene proactively, offering essential support and accommodations.

Automation of Repetitive Tasks

Many employees suffer burnout due to repetitive and mundane tasks. AI-driven automation can take over these tasks, freeing employees to focus on more creative and challenging aspects of their work.

Mental Health Support

AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide immediate mental health support and resources to employees, helping them manage stress and anxiety effectively.

Work-Life Balance

AI can assist in scheduling and workload management, ensuring that employees have ample time for their personal lives. This decreases the risk of burnout associated with excessive work hours.

Recent Examples At Google, Zoom, Elsewhere

There may be no need to attend those irksome meetings any longer. Google recently announced a new feature for its Google Meet video service that lets users send an AI bot to attend a meeting on their behalf. After the meeting, the user will receive AI-generated meeting notes and action items. Naturally, it cannot speak for you or share other real-time information from you.

AI summaries may help get your job done more broadly, as Zoom and Otter.ai join Google and others leveraging Large Language Models (LLMs) in attempts to help workers keep better track of what happens in meetings, whether they attend or not. AI could also help by scheduling follow-up meetings, drafting emails, and otherwise reducing the stress of meeting burdens on employees.

Employers can and should view high rates of burnout as a powerful warning sign that the organization—not the individuals in the workforce—needs to undergo meaningful systematic change, according to McKinsey.

Adding that efforts to rally the organization to rethink work—in ways that are compatible with both employee and employer goals—are likely to pay off in the long term. To help advance that conversation, they offer these targeted questions:

  • Do we treat employee mental health and well-being as a strategic priority?
  • Do we effectively address toxic behaviors?
  • Do we create inclusive work environments?
  • Do we enable individual growth?
  • Do we promote sustainable work?
  • Are we holding leaders accountable?
  • Are we effectively tackling stigma?
  • Do our resources serve employee needs?

The Future Of Work Policies And Practices

Addressing these questions and more has never been more urgent. In conjunction with AI, workplace policies and practices also play a pivotal role in reducing employee burnout.

Start at the Top

The most immediate way to ameliorate employee burnout at your organization is for managers and employees to discuss the factors of burnout that are most relevant to the employee.

Embrace Flexibility and Hybrid Work

Offering flexible work arrangements, including hybrid work options, allows employees to better manage their work-life balance. It lessens commute-related stress and offers greater control over their schedules.

Promote Time Off

Encourage employees to take their vacation days and emphasize the importance of unplugging during downtime. A well-rested employee is less susceptible to burnout.

Prioritize Training and Development

Investing in continuous training and development opportunities not only empowers employees to grow but also demonstrates that the organization values their personal and professional development.

Foster Transparent Communications

Maintain open and transparent communication channels between leadership and employees. When employees feel heard and understood, it can significantly diminish feelings of burnout.

Recognition and Rewards

Acknowledge and reward employees for their hard work and accomplishments. Regular recognition boosts morale and motivation, thereby reducing the risk of burnout.

Ensure Accountability, Monitoring, and Updates

Measure the impact of your AI and future of work initiatives on employee burnout. This will help you to track your progress and make necessary adjustments.

Leverage Technology with Purpose

Invest in training for employees on how to effectively embrace and utilize AI tools and resources. This will help them to be more productive and efficient in their work.

The Time Is Now To Reduce Employee Burnout

Reducing employee burnout through the strategic use of AI and forward-thinking Future of Work policies is not just feasible; it is imperative for modern organizations aiming to thrive. By embracing AI technology and implementing engagement-centric policies, companies can improve the employee experience as well as company outcomes and foster healthier, more productive, and ultimately more successful workplaces.

View original post at Forbes.com, where David Henkin is a contributing writer

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David G. Henkin

I serve as an advisor to corporate and nonprofit leaders and their organizations in the areas of innovation, work design, business and technology, teams, and leadership. An expert in designing and implementing innovative business strategies and solutions improving performance, profitable possibilities, and developing organizational capabilities through a collaborative-growth approach. My most recent book is Fixing Work: A Tale about How to Design Jobs Employees Love. My work experience includes Chief Innovation Officer at Vertex (VERX), also serving as Executive Vice President. In addition, launching and leading their public cloud business and Managed Services and Outsourcing practice. I was a board member at Wheelhouse Analytics from startup through successful strategic acquisition, served as Chief Operating Officer at Coates Analytics also from startup through successful strategic acquisition. Prior to that I was a Corporate Officer and Principal at Vanguard.