Some of the stress and disruptions of 2020 have followed us into 2021. New work arrangements, a blurring of the boundaries between professional and personal lives, lost vacations, and more are putting a strain on workers in industries of all stripes — and many may be feeling burned out.
Even as conditions slowly improve, it will take time to get back to a real sense of “normal,” and you’ll want to ensure your team is aware that you care about their continued well-being and are there to support them. Below, 11 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their simple, practical strategies for identifying and alleviating burnout among your team members.
1. Show your team members they come first.
One strategy to identify and combat burnout is to recognize and take care of your team members. This may include monetary compensation or time away from work. You should be willing to give time and space — even put your business on hold — to take care of what matters most: your employees. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting
2. Initiate thoughtful communication and interaction.
Engage employees through thoughtful communication and interaction periodically throughout the work cycle. If you see particularly bad cases of lost enthusiasm, sit down with the employee and demonstrate your willingness to listen to what they are dealing with or feeling, then work with them on a plan to overcome. – Toshiyasu Abe, OPAS
3. Give them time and space to open up.
Although your whole team might be burned out, hold conversations on an in-person, individual basis. Addressing the whole group may be intimidating, making it hard to open up. Therefore, schedule time with team members who display indications of burnout and try and understand what they are going through. – Wesleyne Greer, Transformed Sales
4. Hold one-on-one meetings with each team member.
Meet or talk with each person one-to-one. It’s okay if it takes a month or two to get to everyone. Ask them, “How are you doing? What’s been the hardest part of 2020? Is there anything I or the company can do to help? What ideas do you have going into 2021 to help manage stress?” Invite them to tell you how they are feeling, and be part of the solution. – Aviva Ajmera, SoLVE KC
5. Don’t always try to ‘solve’ — just listen.
Talk about it. Some people are feeling mental stress. Some have had trauma and may have even lost someone. From kids learning at home to increased hours for healthcare, shortened work hours and layoffs in service sectors, there are many work-related and non-work-related factors that might be stressing folks out. Either in a team setting or one-on-one, give space to listen — not to “solve,” just to listen. Trust me, it helps. – Joe DeSensi, Educational Directions
6. Look for sudden digital communication changes.
When we’re working remotely, our digital footprints say a lot. Keep an eye out for sudden changes in a team member’s digital communication. Is someone who usually promptly responds to email suddenly not communicating? Has someone stopped showing up on Zoom who’s usually the life of the party? In these cases, we need to reach out and make sure that person is OK, and if they’re not, figure out how we can help. – Daniel Serfaty, Aptima, Inc.
7. Encourage your team to do what’s right for them.
I’ve found that it’s really important to allow employees to take a mental health day and to trust them to manage their well-being. There’s no one-size-fits-all prescription for keeping stress levels down, so I want my team members to feel empowered and encouraged to do what is right for them. – Jenn Kenning, Align Impact
8. Revisit expectations and annual goals.
Many employers expect their team to be ready to jump in at full speed and pound out work to make up for “lost time.” Instead of jumping in at full speed, spend time revisiting expectations and annual goals, as well as their needs, so you’re positioned to succeed. A safe space to discuss changes that will help your team be more effective allows you to pivot before burnout becomes permanent. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting
9. Invest in your culture.
The most effective tool in avoiding burnout is investing in culture. Leaders need to create a culture that not only fosters hard work but is also enjoyable and fun. If the work is fulfilling and the workplace is enjoyable, you can keep burnout to a minimum. – Matt Haiker, Q Consulting
10. Provide lunch for the team.
As much as we rely on data-driven productivity reporting, the simple act of providing lunch for the team now and then goes a long way and, perhaps more importantly, directly expresses our appreciation of their efforts. – Robert Antes, TradeTrans Corp.
11. Focus on brightening people’s days.
Expect burnout, and be consistently working to fend it off all the time. We have a director of corporate culture and employee engagement at our company. This person has a full schedule of tasks, projects and events throughout the year that help brighten team members’ days and make them feel engaged and involved. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
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