It’s everywhere, isn’t it? Exhaustion, malaise, apathy, low energy and burnout. Yes, even after a great summer and in some cases, a long holiday, ongoing pressures in the work environment and our Covid ridden communities are likely to be causing significant damage to your team’s morale and performance. Assuming your team has role clarity, is adequately supported, resourced and trained, here are some tips on how you can prevent and reduce instances of burnout in your team.
Self-reflection: Encourage your team to cultivate an ability to self-reflect on their own wellbeing, their overall health, and watching for warning signs. Help think in positive ways by posing questions like: how much exercise am I getting, am I eating a balanced diet, what are my sleep patterns like, do I ask for help?
Taking leave: Monitor your team’s annual leave balance and make sure they are taking their full leave complement each year. While some staff like to stockpile leave so they can take extended trips overseas, make sure this is not impacting on their wellbeing before you approve. For those employees who need more than just encouragement to take leave, many employment agreements have provision to enforce taking annual leave.
Working smarter – not harder: If your team is struggling with a high workload, support and encourage them in identifying ways to increase their efficiency and achieve a better output to effort ratio. Better prioritisation, workflow management and a continuous improvement culture will also support your staff to better manage their workload.
Getting off the grid: The rising use of smartphones and laptops in the work environment makes it difficult for staff to “unplug” after hours, on weekends and when on leave. Highly engaged staff may feel obligated to follow up these after-hours communications as they come in. This constant connection to work is being increasingly blamed for causing anxiety and burnout. As a manager, you need to lead by example. Give your team some clear guidelines about what is expected, strategies about prioritising and giving them the message that it is okay to “switch off” until the next working day. If you are one of the culprits of sending after hours emails, not only should you reflect on your own potential burnout, but you should get into the habit of saving outgoing emails to draft and sending these the next working day.
Socialising and having fun: Getting your team together in a social environment helps build relationships, boosts morale and breaks down barriers. This may be as simple as getting people to take their breaks away from their desk. Other ideas for socialising include corporate sports teams, organising social gatherings and running corporate team building events such as go-kart racing and laser tag. Furthermore, make sure your work environment is fun, that people enjoy their time at work, laugh and feel part of a team.
Making everyone responsible: Finally, educate your team about burnout and how to develop greater resilience and coping skills. Create discussions about burnout and have a process for staff to follow should they recognise symptoms of burnout in either themselves or another member of the team.
If you are worried about any of your team members, listen to their concerns, validate their emotions, and offer support. These actions can immediately help lighten the load.