Are Your Employees Suffering From Burnout?


Has your right-hand manager become irritable and late for work more regularly? Does your key employee seem to have less enthusiasm than normal and his productivity is dropping?

They might be suffering from burnout, a state of emotional and physical exhaustion that is brought on by a long period of stress resulting in a feeling of emptiness and frustration.

Approximately 69 percent of landscape professionals answering Turf’s survey say they think some of their employees are experiencing burnout and 5 percent say all of them are.

Burnout often results from overwork and underappreciation, says Casey Slide at Money Crashers. Look out for these warning signs:

  • Unexplained absences
  • Showing up to work late/leaving early
  • Decrease in productivity
  • Apparent frustration
  • Decline in health
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Isolation

While Slide says there is no quick fix, landscape business owners can make an impact by communicating, motivating and leading employees. She suggests holding regular staff meetings, emphasizing positives and downplaying negatives, recognizing and acknowledging work and clarifying expectations and job requirements.

“I try to be a positive example for my people and treat them how I want to be treated,” shares Dean Higbee, owner, South Branch Nursery, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He says 70 percent of his employees have been with his company for more than five years, 50 percent for more than 10 years and 30 percent for more than 15 years.

To motivate employees, Slide suggests encouraging stress relievers that your team likes (Friday breakfast on the company or flexible hours, for instance), showing appreciation with a thank you gift like afternoon snacks, and encouraging vacation days during busy times of year when they are needed most.

As Higbee explains, “we offer health insurance and retirement for full-time staff members. Our employees get one week vacation after six months, a second week of vacation year two, three weeks of vacation at year five and four weeks of vacation at year eight. We also pay all holidays and abide by overtime laws. I built my business based on the theory that if I was working there would it be attractive for me?”

Finally, Slide suggests landscape business owners improve leadership skills by reading books or attending workshops, sending employees to similar training to help boost productivity and spirits, limiting overtime when possible and assigning tasks accordingly.

Entrepreneurs can become so attached to their companies that they want to be involved in every part, “but if growth is your goal, you have to be prepared to find and trust others who share your values and have the skills and experience to help you run the day to day,” explains Lisa Schiffman, director and founder of EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women program.

Higbee says he recognized this as he was building his business. “Being an owner is like being the head coach of a football team,” he says. “My managers are my core team and I need to make sure they play well.”

Ultimately, “anyone is susceptible to workplace burnout,” Slide adds. “Don’t think your employees are immune to burnout. Take time to evaluate your staff’s level of burnout and implement measures to deal with and prevent it.”