What is employee burnout?
Employee burnout is an occupational phenomenon that is characterised by physical and emotional exhaustion due to long-term or excessive workplace stress. Symptoms of burnout include physical and emotional exhaustion, reduced motivation and productivity, negative outlook, lack of energy and an inability to focus.
Burnout within a business can have a seriously detrimental effect on the workplace as a whole and can lead to:
- Staff disengagement
- Reduced productivity
- Higher staff turnover
- Lower morale among employees causing teams to lack cohesion, which could lead to unsatisfactory service for customers or clients.
In order to reduce the risks of burnout, organisations should focus on implementing policies and initiatives that promote work/life balance and provide employees with resources that help them manage their workload. This could include allowing flexible work schedules, providing mental health resources, or offering an employee assistance program.
As part of this strategy, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used as a powerful tool to prevent employee burnout.
How AI Can Help
“When people think about AI or automation in the business world, the first thing that normally comes to mind is job losses,” says Nadine Sutton, Principal Product Manager at enterprise software provider Advanced. “But this doesn’t have to be the case at all. AI essentially creates new jobs for employees, allowing them to make a positive pivot on their career path, and become a more highly skilled worker.”
Roughly 1 in 4 finance workers struggle to get accurate data when they need it, while 1 in 5 say that their days are often disrupted by “small tasks that take a long time to complete”. Those are just some of the findings of a recent survey by Advanced, which sought feedback from 5,000 business decision-makers on the issues and challenges they face.
The report finds that roughly 10% of financiers felt that their existing systems were no longer fit for purpose – rising to 13% of those working at organisations employing 1,000 or more staff. Furthermore, 85% are currently working more hours each week than they should be, with around 40% saying that they could not complete the amount of work they are given any other way.
With these numbers in mind, it is clear that failing to adopt automation opportunities and thereby reducing the workload of employees, could result in a wellbeing crisis for many.
Accounting and finance software that utilises AI and machine learning to reconcile data, prepare reports and maintain spreadsheets has existed for years, but a third of senior leaders surveyed say they still have no plans to adopt it.
“Artificial Intelligence is disrupting finance, but in a profoundly helpful way,” Sutton continues, “It’s easy to get caught up in the supposed negative connotations of Artificial Intelligence, such as that it’s a threat to jobs. However, AI provides a way to reduce the workload surrounding traditional accounting activities, such as transaction processing, auditing, reporting, and maintaining compliance.
Automating tasks to reduce stress
When using outdated software, employees can be quickly overwhelmed with tedious tasks, such as maintaining spreadsheets, reconciling data, and preparing reports. The good news is that AI can free up precious time by managing such tasks, enhancing workplace productivity. This gives employees the opportunity to focus on compelling, rewarding, and value-adding work.
Besides reducing time on manual resource-intensive tasks, there are tasks that AI tools are more adept at than humans. Nadine Sutton notes: “Software provides almost unlimited processing power, and the Cloud gives instant access to up-to-the-minute business intelligence, which can be used to meet the shifting demands of the market.”
Additionally, AI automation can reduce the occurrence of human error, and can even be used for detecting errors, rather than relying on an individual to spend hours combing through every single piece of data.
Using AI to improve business insights and admin processes can significantly reduce the pressure and stress to produce regular updates on the latest budgets, forecasts, and scenario planning.
The benefits of Cloud HR technology
One of the best ways of preventing employee burnout is having solid HR processes and systems, ensuring the needs of employees are taken care of and their potential concerns are heard. Cloud-based systems automate manual processes, streamline data management and provide in-depth analytics, freeing up HR personnel to focus on the human element of their job.
Challenges of adopting AI
The adoption of AI in the workplace can be a daunting task for business leaders. Implementing AI technology introduces a new, often unfamiliar set of technological capabilities for employees and employers, and it can be complex to work out exactly which solution is needed. Additionally, many business leaders worry about the costs associated with such new systems. Moreover, organisations must address any worries and concerns employees may have when AI technology is introduced, as well as any cultural obstacles that may arise.
Step into the future
Today’s business leaders have the tools available to them to reduce workplace stress and employee burnout. New technologies, such as AI, have the potential to reduce the workload of employees, allowing them more time to focus on their work in a healthy, sustainable way. By leveraging these tools, business leaders can create an environment focused on fostering wellbeing, which is essential for both employee and company success.
“The potential of automation is vast.” concludes Nadine Sutton. “But CFOs must remember any technology is as good as the individuals using it. They must continue to place great importance on their most valuable asset, people, if they are to draw maximum value from emerging technologies.”