The World Health Organization (2020) defines burnout as a syndrome that transpired from chronic workplace stress which has not been successfully managed. It is usually manifested by experiencing feelings of energy exhaustion or depletion, increased mental distance from the job or negative outlook towards one’s career, and reduced professional productivity.
Burnout is not a new terminology for employees since many of them, in different demographic backgrounds, experience stress, fatigue, and mental health challenges from time to time. However, it has gotten worse in these trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Burnout not only affected employees but also organizations in terms of employee retention. Worth noting, eighty-four percent of millennials mentioned that they have experienced some type of burnout at their current job and nearly half of them had to leave their jobs for good, (Deloitte, 2021).
Moreover, based on pre-pandemic data as cited by Threlkeld (2021), 52% of all workers feel burned out from work — a percentage that increased by 9% from a previous study with more than two-thirds (or 67%) believing that the pandemic aggravated or worsened their burnout. While one may think that burnout is only common to regular team members, managers or leaders are just as likely to suffer frequent or constant burnout, (Gallup, 2019). And just like any other employee, employee burnout may lead to lower levels of self-confidence, motivation, and productivity which can threaten their job satisfaction, retention, relationships, and overall contribution to business success. Many leaders have resolved such issues by acknowledging the situation first and then accept that they need to leverage their efforts for self-care and mental health. Never ever let the time pass and think it would go away like a bad flu, it is not a strategy that works and this may only lead to stress accumulation. The best way to do it start today with these tips:
- Improve your communication channels.
You need a reliable tool or system for communicating with your colleagues as this is the simplest way to boost employee engagement which can both be beneficial to you and them. Allot 30 minutes of your daily work time for check-ins or vibe checking. This presents an ideal way to practice positive speech and make everyone, including yourself, heard and listened to. Find out what everyone else is feeling at the time they clock in for work and you can share your own thoughts too. It does not have to be all negative, perhaps everyone can share what also keeps them busy these days and learn from one another. In the context of work, you can try implementing asynchronous communication. This can help leaders strategize at their own pace and relieve the pressure of responding immediately.
- Add flair to your normal work routine.
Doing regular engaging virtual events can aid the whole team to connect and lessen the daily work pressure. To boost employee engagement including your own, you can arrange and host events via a teleconferencing app. These events include:
- A virtual hangout – online coffee, tea, or wine party where everyone can talk, gossip, and share experiences as they would in the physical office
- A virtual awards night – recognizing small wins is one way to uplift everyone’s spirit especially during these times. This can be done by dishing out certificates or electronic badges.
- A wellness program – directed at prevailing issues and their solutions in the workplace like healthy habits, risks to productivity, or maintaining work-and-life balance.
- Try a different workspace.
Coworking spaces are effective. They are essentially shared spaces offered at affordable rates for those looking to escape the isolation of a home or physical office. Independent contractors and freelancers can use a coworking space to develop flexibility and diversity. To get a breath of fresh air and renew your energy and motivation levels, go somewhere different.
- Create a flexible schedule for everyone.
Be the change you want to see in the world, they say. If you long for something that might work for you, it can also be the thing that might work for everyone. Knowing when you and other people work best can pay off in their productivity and efficiency. This can increase your chance of having satisfied employees. Schedule flexibility can provide for the work-life balance your company encourages.
- Revisit your mental health and wellness benefits.
Take advantage of your PTOs and use them based on your needs. When you feel like you need to take your hands off from your laptop and disconnect for a while, you may feel free to do so on account that you make pre-leave arrangements to ensure everyone still works despite your being away. With this, you are modeling a behavior that responds to what your mental health needs so that you can encourage others to do the same and this can free everyone from the risks of burnout.
Sure that as a leader you are morally obligated to ensure that all your team members are happy, motivated, and satisfied with their jobs but do not forget yourself in this process. You are also an employee. You also get tired, exhausted, and demotivated, just like everyone else. Luckily, you have this list with you to make sure you will never have to deal with burnout in the same old way again.