The job search site Indeed did a survey and found out that more than half of employees in the United States say they’re burned out, and two-thirds say the pandemic made things even worse. I’m not sure that anyone needed an official survey, especially not HR teams that have been conducting exit interviews and hear about burnout all day long, but I guess data is data.
Speaking of data, WHO has declared burnout an occupational hazard, lowering job performance, morale, and job satisfaction, which costs the economy billions of dollars. 190 of them a year is their rough estimate. Yes, that’s almost two hundred thousands of millions of dollars that don’t need to go out the window. So, if you’re incentivized by money, that should do it for you. If you’re incentivized by doing the right thing, just knowing that your team is being hurt should do the trick.
The first step is to begin to understand the signs of burnout, not just in your employees but in yourself as well. When it comes to your employees, look out for signs of exhaustion, decrease in performance, and being overly critical or irritable for no reason. When it comes to yourself, think about if you’re feeling disillusioned, unsatisfied, or having trouble concentrating. Physically, are you having headaches, stomach problems, or trouble sleeping?
If the answer is yes to any of those things, burnout may be the problem.
If you and your team aren’t there yet, there is still time to try to be proactive and prevent burnout altogether.
Here are a few things to try:
- For starters, have honest conversations. Ask how each person on your team is doing and ask them for feedback about what you can do to help make their employee experience better.
- Up your inclusion game. Feeling like you’re an “other” or having to wear a mask to work every day is exhausting and accelerates burnout. Create a team charter that lets people know what the ground rules are, and what behavior is okay and what’s not. Build up the spirit of the whole team.
- Pay attention to how much work you’re giving your team so that no one is overloaded. Go over expectations to make sure the level of effort is completely clear and don’t wait for someone to tell you that they feel overloaded, if you do, you’re already too late.
- Know your boundaries and respect the boundaries that everyone on your team sets. Encourage everyone to make sure that they set healthy priorities when it comes to creating work/life balance, especially if they are remote or hybrid workers. Keep an eye on how many hours everyone is working and make adjustments when you see someone burning the midnight oil.
- Along the same line, be flexible. Make sure that if people work better from home, let them work from home. If someone works better in the evenings, do what you can to make that happen. Be innovative, think about job sharing, reduced work weeks, and additional time off. I realize that some of these things may not be possible for everyone but put on your thinking cap. Even better, ask for suggestions.
- Celebrate each and every win. Make sure that everyone on your team feels appreciated, heard, and respected. Be a cheerleader and give credit for good results, no matter how small they are.
- Model the right behavior. Don’t work around the clock, take time out during the day to de-stress, and put yourself first, not your work. If you’re an early bird and start sending out emails at 5 am let people know that you aren’t expecting an immediate response. Show that you’re setting boundaries for yourself and for your team.
And here are a few things that you can do to make sure you don’t burn out.
- Figure out what self-care means to you. For me, it’s all about being able to read on the beach, which admittedly is pretty hard to do since I live in the desert, or taking time out to have a spa day. Whether it’s fishing, reading, spending time with your family, or something entirely different, figure out what works for you and make the time to do it.
- Build strong relationships at work and at home. Find a mentor that can help you navigate through some of the more difficult leadership situations. Let them help you figure out the things about work that you love so that you can spend more time doing that work and delegating other things to the people on your team who like those things. Spend time with the friends that uplift you and make you feel like you are your best self when you’re with them.
- Get more support if you need it. If your company has an Employee Assistance Plan, use it. If you feel close to burnout, talking to a therapist or a counselor may be the thing that keeps you from succumbing to full-on burnout. If you aren’t comfortable with that, try working with Kirsty Sayer, our Life Coach. Don’t want to talk to someone? I got you! There are interactive programs that you can do from the comfort of your own home without speaking to anyone. Try this one for free, Bliss Free Online Therapy.
Burnout can cause physical and mental distress but remember, it doesn’t have to get that far. Turn these tips into daily habits to keep burnout at bay.