Column: The Biggest Danger Your Employees Face Could Very Well Be You
Bad bosses are costing their companies billions as they burn out their employees.
The No. 1 job of a safety director is to protect employees from harm. Harm can come from many different directions and can strike an employee in any number of ways and places—the head, the hands, the feet, eyes, ears, nose, lungs, heart. It could be excessive heat, excessive cold, excessive sunlight, toxic chemicals and gases, spills, falls. It could come from equipment, vehicles, dry rot, asbestos, combustible dust, animals, electricity, fires, floods.
The list goes on and on, of course, as every workplace has its own unique potential to expose workers to some kind of harm. And, for just about every possible danger, there is a corresponding solution to prevent it or at least contain it.
But what if the biggest risk factor to your employees’ health and safety isn’t any of those things? What if you—the safety manager—are yourself the biggest threat to your workers?
In a recent poll of its members, TeamBlind, a community app for the workplace, asked, "What is the main source of employee burnout at your current workplace?" Some of the most frequently cited responses include work overload, toxic culture, lack of career growth, and insufficient rewards. But, by far, the No. 1 cause of employee burnout is poor leadership and unclear direction.
Now, burnout doesn’t refer to the occasional stress that all of us experience from time to time on the job. It’s not the typical employee grumble about being overworked and underpaid or the wish that Friday would hurry up and get here already. According to Psychology Today, burnout is “a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. When in the throes of full-fledged burnout, [employees] are no longer able to function effectively on a personal or professional level.”