February 2, 2023
Prevent Burnout: How to Beat Burnout for Good
A great number of companies have made addressing burnout a top initiative this year. It seems things didn’t exactly “shake out” more than two years after the global pandemic shut down business as usual. People are back at work with a new perspective, and perhaps more belief in themselves after coming through to the other side of such a traumatic event. So, why hasn’t burnout gone away?
The reality is, workers still grind in a tense business climate. Companies face a lot of challenges brought on by persisting economic uncertainty. Rising costs and supply issues are just a few reasons leaders keep having to shift teams’ objectives around. Workers can’t find their groove like they can in a more stable market, and fatigue is becoming an ever-present concern.
In a survey by Deloitte, 77% of respondents say they have experienced burnout at their current job. 91% say that unmanageable stress or frustration impacts the quality of their work.
Burnout includes symptoms similar to depression:
- Chronic exhaustion
- Feelings of cynicism and negativity
- Sense of personal and professional ineffectiveness
Signs that burnout might be affecting a team:
- Workers are taking more time off
- Workers seem aloof like they don’t care about their performance
- Workers do only what’s explicitly required. They come in right on time and don’t stay a minute late.
- There’s hostile language and tone being used in team communication.
Leaders in good faith have introduced resources to their employees that they can use to alleviate symptoms of burnout, some of which are:
- Stress management coaching
- Leadership development
- Health and wellness initiatives
- Flexible work hours
- Workplace perks like catered lunch and team off-sites
- Parenting perks
But if burnout keeps creeping back into a team, it should signal to the leader they need to address something about their leadership tactics. Leaders can courageously turn the lens inward to root out the deeper causes of burnout in order to dissolve tension once and for all with the following tips.
- Workload balance – Do your people have enough resources and tools to meet the demands? Find out what your team thinks and don’t assume that you are providing everything they need. Sometimes leaders don’t fully understand the gaps that exist because they’re focused on different things. They can gain clarity and meet needs by welcoming continuous feedback from their employees. It’s the leader’s role to supply teams with adequate resources or adjust the demands to be more congruent.
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- Autonomy – Leaders must draw closer to their teams in a challenging economic environment, but are you still allowing your people to make choices on their own? Teams should be able to voice their ideas and take liberties to customize different aspects of their work. Is it ok for your team to improvise and improve the way they do things? If you’re making most of the decisions for the team and diving into details constantly with your people, you’re likely causing high levels of stress and negativity.
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- Acknowledgment – How are you rewarding your team for their positive impact? Salary and benefits don’t do the job of recognizing good work. Show your people you notice and care about their effort. Praise them for the days when nothing bad happens and things go well. You can also remind them about how their work is making a difference as part of the company’s core mission. Your team members need to feel like they do valuable work that isn’t taken for granted.
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Workplace community – Build a strong sense of belonging between the individuals on your team. The leader sets the social and interpersonal climate. If there’s hostility, destructive competitiveness, and a lack of trust and support between team members, it could point to a disparity. The leader must look for possible impartialities in their practices and policies. Ask your team, and make it safe for them to provide truthful feedback. Dissolve anger and cynicism by making changes to rectify the disparity.
The small changes you make go a long way to making a positive difference and building hope. While it may be tempting to tackle the most glaring issues, they may take a long time to yield visible results. Leaders can more easily make small and immediate changes that their people can see. Do these first to show your team their company is willing and able to fix things. Look for ways to make things incrementally better. Start small and show your team changes can happen.
The potential for burnout never really goes away. It’s a condition that can resurface when a piece of the workplace relationship comes up short. Leaders need to constantly observe the relationship that their people have with their workplace to keep burnout in the state of remission. Leaders can create a consistent cycle of evaluation that unearths concerns before they become significant setbacks for the team. Make the approach known and celebrated as a cultural trait of the team, and watch the tension dissolve.
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