Digital marketing expert at NUVEW, helping businesses expand their online presence through custom website design and development & SEO.
Over the past few years, business leaders have encountered many unexpected challenges. From cultivating a remote workforce to running on contact-free client meetings, leaders have had to be creative with how they navigate an ever-changing business framework. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all of these changes on top of your typical workflow. Burnout, which is defined as physical or mental exhaustion that results from ongoing stress, can affect anyone, especially those with too much on their plate.
No matter what you’re doing to increase your team’s productivity and satisfaction, take the time to address burnout among you and your employees. It’s too easy to fall into the “grind,” so in times of difficulty, it’s hard to step back. Avoiding burnout isn’t always straightforward, but there are ways to work through the feelings and get back on track. Here are a few ways we manage burnout at our agency—and how you can, too.
Build a self-care strategy.
Before finding methods to reduce burnout, your first step is to identify its causes. In order to do so, you’ll need to assess the state of affairs. There are numerous sources of burnout, but generally, it comes from poor self-care. We aren’t machines, after all: People need breaks to clear their minds and step away from stress. Ongoing anxiety over professional responsibilities only harms productivity, so watch for the following causes:
• Not recognizing when it’s time to stop and take a break.
• Tying success to self-worth.
• Skewed life values: prioritizing work over family and hobbies.
• Stress or feelings of losing control.
• Neglecting sleep, social life, food and other basic needs.
Determining what lies at the core of employee burnout is essential to building a strategy to counteract it. Do you need more time to yourself? Should you plan a few vacation days? Knowing the answers will aid you in creating an effective self-care plan that addresses your current needs. Likewise, you can identify what your team needs, too. Whether it’s an office outing or an early day off, you can provide an opportunity for your team to take a step away from the stress and recuperate.
Improve communication across your team.
Many times, poor communication leads to one or multiple people putting too much on their own shoulders. During times of difficulty, people are stronger when they work together. Business leaders thrive with the help of the team they’ve nurtured. Have regular meetings with your employees, as brainstorming activities can ignite a newfound passion for what you do. Look to them for inspiration and keep their ideas in mind.
If communication is lacking, there are a few ways to bridge the gap. Active listening goes both ways: As you give constructive criticism to your employees, encourage them to provide feedback as well. Also, keep in mind that there is no shame in needing an assistant and helping hand to handle even day-to-day matters. By communicating your priorities, you’ll be able to increase productivity and move toward your goals.
Understand that flexibility limits pressure.
Uncertainty is confining. When life feels rigid and uncontrollable, your best bet is to bend rather than break. Recognize that no matter how great your plans look on paper, you may run into some bumps along the way. Reorganize your team to better suit your newfound needs. Having an advisor or team of people on-call to handle requests can take a load off of your shoulders. Altering your workload to make it more balanced reduces stress.
At NUVEW, we encourage flexibility by working to cross-train employees in multiple roles so that when one team member is overwhelmed, we can shift duties to other team members if needed.
It’s also important to be flexible and take time off when you need it. Competitiveness can become unhealthy when you’re too focused on the competition around you. However, many workers feel guilty when stepping away from their workload, so recognize that this is a common problem. You may feel tempted to bring your laptop along for a trip, but trying to complete everything sooner rather than later isn’t always the answer.
Motivate using a reward-based system.
Burnout is a physiological reaction to your stress response. That’s why it’s often helpful to activate the reward part of your brain to counteract these harmful effects. Utilize your reward system by finding a balance between work and play. Rewarding yourself for a job well done increases satisfaction and gives you goals to look forward to. Studies show that creating a balance between reward and effort helps mitigate stress generated by hard work.
Subconsciously, you will understand the work as part of a reward system, helping you stay motivated and signaling to your brain when you’ve reached your goal. That way, you can better plan breaks once you’ve marked progress. The same concept can be applied to your team: Balance the workload with incentives. Plan a simple group outing to step away from the stress. Consider incorporating birthday parties and other celebrations into your office culture.
Whenever we finish a big project, I make a point of treating the team to a surprise. It might just be coffee and bagels or letting everyone leave a little early, but I find that taking the time to acknowledge professional milestones goes a long way toward employee satisfaction.
Handling Burnout Gets Easier
These past few years have been transformative for many businesses. Making the most of our challenges and seeing what we’ve gained from them is how we find the light that guides us to the next stage. Business leaders aren’t alone in this proposition. When the weight on your shoulders is too much to bear, take a step back and look at your resources. Remember that stress management is a skill that anyone can learn, and with some practice, you’ll foster a healthier work environment. Chances are, you’ll find the silver lining within the hardship, allowing you to harness newfound strengths.