How to Address Burnout in Stressed Supply Chain Teams
There’s no question that these last few years have been difficult for businesses worldwide. The profound and far-ranging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its global lockdowns and massive supply chain disruptions, have threatened economies, businesses, and livelihoods all around the world.
And, unfortunately, for those working in the supply chain, the challenges have lingered long after the worst of the pandemic has subsided. Indeed, as the world endeavors to emerge from the shadow of the virus, the pressures put on the supply chain have threatened to engender its complete collapse. That has put the burden squarely on the shoulders of supply chain workers as they struggled to get businesses — and economies — up and running again.
The result has been supply chain teams that are overworked, overburdened, and overwhelmed. Burnout is running rampant in the supply chain workforce, but there are things leaders can do to mitigate its effects and prevent it entirely.
What is Burnout
You have probably heard the term “burnout” casually bandied about all of your life, but you may be a bit uncertain as to what, exactly, it is and why it matters. The fact is that burnout is real; it is ubiquitous, and it is a threat both to your individual workers and to your team as a whole.
Burnout is a physiological as well as a psychological response to prolonged, chronic stress. Very often, the stressors leading to burnout are work-related and so, too, are its most significant, direct, and immediate impacts.
Burnout in the workplace can lead to loss of motivation, frequent absences, increased healthcare costs, poor motivation, and significantly reduced performance, productivity, and efficiency. Indeed, burnout is strongly associated with spikes in turnover rates. This is particularly true at the highest levels of management in the supply chain industry, where attrition at the leadership level threatens only to exacerbate the risk of burnout across the industry due to the punishing pace and untenable schedules workers at all levels and in all stations face.
Boosting Efficiency to Combat Burnout
When it comes to protecting your supply chain team from burnout, one of the first and most important things you can do is strive to alleviate some of the burden of work under which they’re laboring. That may sound easier said than done, of course, but it is possible.
The key, in general, is to deploy the power of data analytics to help bolster efficiency in the supply chain. Data analytics can help you identify and prevent inefficiencies across the entire supply chain, enabling your workers to get more done with less time and effort.
Best of all, data analytics can help to predict and prepare for surges in supply and demand through a combination of customer behavior analysis, market forecasting, and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) systems for managing warehouses.
This means that your supply chain team needs never to be caught flat-footed and playing catch-up again. The result is a more manageable workload and a more sustainable work/life balance.
Educating and Empowering Workers
In addition to striving to make the supply chain more efficient and reliable, it’s also vital to ensure that workers are aware of the physical and mental health effects of severe and chronic workplace stress. It’s also imperative that employees be provided with the resources they need to reduce their risk of burnout and to mitigate its impacts when and if it occurs.
Educating employees on what burnout is, how to recognize the warning signs, and how to seek help can help end the spiral before it progresses too far and you risk losing valuable employees to ill health or resignation. It’s also important to provide employees with the tools they need to manage their work-related stress, including access to mental healthcare and frequent, paid time-off (PTO) opportunities. You might also offer other perks that can help employees practice better self-care, such as gym and spa memberships or onsite exercise facilities and quiet rooms to allow employees to periodically decompress in the midst of a chaotic work day.
Workers in the supply chain industry have faced incredible obstacles in the past few years and, unfortunately, the challenges do not seem to be abating. For this reason, burnout is ubiquitous among supply chain teams, resulting in high turnover and reduced workplace performance. The good news, however, is that there are things that can be done to help reduce the risk of burnout in supply chain workers and to mitigate its impact should it occur. The first and most important step is to unleash the power of data analytics to bolster supply chain efficiency and reliability. It is also critical to educate employees on burnout and to equip them with the resources they need to prevent it.
*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.