Over the last thirty years, the psychological contract between employer and employee has changed because of globalization and major advances in technology. This CQ Dossier focuses on the concept of psychological contracts and raises several important questions such as what is a psychological contract and how does it work?
Managers are typically tasked with overseeing and taking steps to ensure the productivity of their employees. This task is complicated and requires a finely-tuned blend of providing motivation, doling out consequences, adapting to institutional change, and helping employees build independence and new skills.
Most managers are, by definition, focused on factors outside of themselves. Managing a team of employees and running an organization requires a ton of outward attention, and an ability to prioritize others’ needs before addressing ones’ own. This perspective, however, can come at a high price: managers may neglect to notice or address their own stress and physical health.
For the past few decades, psychological researchers have been aware of a phenomenon called ego depletion: the wearing down of willpower and self-control. The most common understanding of the subject holds that willpower is a finite resource, which can be used up or exhausted over the course of a single day (Baumeister et al, 1998). This has been supported by research showing that when a person is asked to exert a ton of willpower (for example, by ignoring loud noises to complete a difficult task), they make more impulsive decisions afterward.
Burnout is, largely, a social phenomenon. Many of the causes of burnout are social: when an organization is run in an unjust fashion, conflict is high, and employer demands are difficult to meet, employees are at a greater risk of burning out (Oberle et al, 2016). Burnout is also exhibited in social terms: burned out employees are more disagreeable, apathetic, and jaded. The diminished performance of a burned out employee can create more conflict and disappointment within their workplace, negatively impacting those around them (Kim et al, 2017).
Burnout is the enemy of productivity, collaboration, and morale. When an employee is experiencing burnout, they report low motivation, low investment in their organization’s goals, and an outlook that is pessimistic and grim. Burned out employees are more likely to be absent, waste time at the workplace, make avoidable errors in their work duties, and generate conflict among their co-workers.
A growing number of organizations are focusing on caring for their employees in a holistic, wellbeing-focused manner. Particularly among tech companies and start-ups, employee benefits now surpass simple health and retirement benefits, and include physical health programs, continuing education credits, and even on-site wellness facilities such as yoga rooms (Dailey & Zhu, 2017).
When workers are absent from work, this can cause many problems for organizations. Although organizations expect employees to take time off for doctor appointments and sickness, excessive absenteeism can lead to decreased productivity (Forbes, 2013). One of the best competitive advantages for organizations is the people that they hire. When talent is absent from work, this can have a deleterious effect on organizational effectiveness. A survey of European countries conducted by Eurofound revealed that, on average, rates of absence across Europe are between 3% and 6% of working time. Taking this into consideration makes absenteeism rate a hidden champion key performance indicator (KPI) for productivity, employee engagement and leadership effectiveness. This blog post discusses the causes and costs of absenteeism as well as how to measure and reduce it.
One of the current “trends” in the science of management is examining employees’ resilience. Like “emotional intelligence” and “grit” before it, “resilience” has become a desirable and much-discussed quality that hiring managers seek and leaders work to increase (Leadbeater, Dodgen, & Solarz, 2005). This is not without reason – resilience has been found to predict long-term success in a variety of fields (Klohen, 1996).
Leaders within organizations are tasked with taking time to know what burnout is, how to identify it, how to prevent it, and how to address it if it spotted. It may seem like that is a personal matter for the employee to tend to, however, there is evidence to the contrary. Organizations are, at the core, made up of people. Not taking care of them is like neglecting any process or element of the business. If you don’t address this problem which may be lurking in your workplace, it could cost the company capital, both human and financial.