More than half of employees in the United States say they’re burned out, and two-thirds say the pandemic is making their symptoms worse. That’s according to a recent survey by the job search site Indeed.
Burnout is a big concern for any manager. It lowers performance and morale and interferes with job satisfaction. The World Health Organization has deemed it an occupational hazard, and many experts believe it costs the economy as much as $190 billion a year.
How can you keep your team energized and engaged? Learn how to recognize and respond to signs of burnout in yourself and in the employees you manage.
Preventing Burnout on Your Team
You've probably read headlines about the Great Resignation, as millions of employees voluntarily quit their jobs. Exit surveys reveal that burnout is the main reason. If you’re proactive, you can help your team to enjoy more balance.
Try these tips:
Be alert. While many employees have their own definitions of burnout, the official classification depends on three symptoms. Those are exhaustion, cynicism, and decreased performance. Recovery is easier if you can spot signs early.
Monitor workloads. Set realistic expectations and watch workflows to see if anyone is having trouble keeping up. Use staff meetings and one-on-one sessions to adjust assignments as needed.
Encourage healthy boundaries. Remote and hybrid work can make it more difficult to keep business matters from spilling into your personal life. Encourage employees to take precautions, like creating a designated workspace and avoiding excess overtime.
Reward innovation. Feeling appreciated counts too. Give employees credit for effort and creativity even when some experiments are less successful than others.
Provide flexibility. Arranging work differently could help employees to manage their responsibilities more effectively. Explore four-day work weeks, hybrid work, and job sharing.
Ask for feedback. Use surveys and other tools to learn more about what your team members really want. Their priorities may be different than you think. We use a process called Appreciative Inquiry. Using an individual or team not connected with your workplace, we gather your team(s) and allow them the freedom to tell us how they feel about their work environment and offer suggestions for improvement.
Build community. Focus on inclusivity and team spirit. Establish ground rules for civil communication and respectful conflict resolution. A congenial environment reduces stress and strengthens connections.
Hire carefully. Employees are less vulnerable to burnout if they feel like their company shares their values. Make cultural fit part of your hiring criteria. Talk with a professional recruiter if you need more guidance on understanding and implementing the process.
Preventing Burnout in Yourself
As a manager, your example has a big impact on your team. Investing in yourself makes you a more constructive role model.
Keep these ideas in mind:
Set personal goals. Heavy workloads feel lighter if you’re passionate about your work. Reflect on the purpose behind your activities. Spend more time on the aspects of your job that you enjoy. Give yourself targets to strive for.
Practice self-care. Look after your health and wellbeing. Eat healthy, and exercise regularly. If worrying about your job keeps you up at night, try sticking to a consistent bedtime even on weekends.
Think positive. Project confidence and stay calm under pressure. Let your team know that you recognize their strengths and praise them for their contributions. Use appropriate humor to lighten up tense moments.
Seek support. Cultivate relationships inside and outside of your workplace. Join professional associations and find a mentor. Spend time with family and friends. Ask for help when you need it.
Consider counseling. What if you’re still stressed, but unable to quit your job? Talking with a therapist can help you develop coping skills and identify factors you can control.
Burnout may be an epidemic, but there are practical steps you can take to help your team and yourself. Recognize when you’re at risk for becoming overwhelmed and take action promptly to begin the recovery process.