A Gallup poll shows that 7 out of 10 employees feel unengaged with their work. And while researchers and HR departments have put a lot of energy into figuring out how to increase employee engagement, less attention has been focused on how to best support those employees who are already engaged, leading to burnout. You may think being a broker or team leader is different than a Fortune 500 CEO, but in the sense of employee engagement, it’s the same.
Workers who are less engaged are actually less likely to quit (or switch brokers) than those who are engaged but are stressed out about it. These losses are also harder for companies to bear, as highly engaged workers are generally the most productive and valuable to the team.
A study by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence surveyed over 1,000 U.S. employees to learn about engagement as it relates to burnout – burnout being, of course, the point of no return when an employee or team member is so stressed and exhausted that they can’t take it anymore.
Burnout has both physical and emotional symptoms and can lead to sleep problems and depression. Once an employee is burned out, they may need a lot of time to recover to previous levels of productivity, or worse, may give up and quit altogether. They may float to a different broker, franchise, or even another industry.
The study found that 2 out of 5 employees are highly engaged, but with low levels of burnout stress. These employees, categorized by the researchers as “optimally engaged,” had positive emotional health and contributed positively to the company.
Unfortunately, 1 in 5 workers had high levels of engagement but were at high risk for burnout. These workers represent the “engaged-exhausted group,” and while they were very interested in their work, they were also very frustrated and stressed. This group had a much higher turnover than even unengaged employees.
This means that all brands are at risk of losing some of their very best employees because they are overworked (and unsupported).
While some companies have helped their employees reduce stress through wellness programs that encourage exercise, good nutrition, and mindfulness practices, Yale researchers say that these programs may not do enough for highly-engaged workers.
Highly-engaged workers (or agents), across the board, reported having access to crucial resources such as supervisor support, rewards such as good pay, and recognition for their work. The biggest difference between optimally engaged workers and exhausted-engaged workers was the demands of the work itself.
In a nutshell – workers at risk for burnout simply had too much on their plates.
So while a company can expect to increase engagement, or reduce stress for engaged workers, by being supportive and offering resources and fair pay (or a better percentage), the make-or-break-it factor when it comes to burnout is the sheer volume of work.
Keep demands realistic and goals moderate. “Stretch goals” tend to stress people out more than motivate them.
If you give someone extra assignments or put more on their plate, re-delegate some of their other work to someone else or provide more assistant support. Encourage breaks and lunch breaks if someone is spending too much time at their desk.
In corporate life, the takeaway is to not overwork your best employees. But in real estate, it takes an experienced team leader or broker to spot impending burnout and address it by offering better support so another brokerage with better support doesn’t swoop in and snatch your most productive team members.