Despite all the talk about burnout - what causes it and its impact on health and wellness - reports of employees and leaders experiencing feelings of fatigue, lack of productivity, and disengagement are on the rise. In this recent study, over 50 percent of the survey’s respondents reported burnout with the highest levels found among healthcare workers.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by chronic stress. According to research by psychologist Christina Maslach and other collaborators, burnout is a “three-component syndrome that arises in response to chronic stressors on the job.” According to this article from the Harvard Business Review, the three components that Maslach defines are:
- Exhaustion: Physical, cognitive, and emotional fatigue that impairs an individual’s ability to work effectively.
- Cynicism: An erosion of engagement that causes individuals to distance themselves psychologically from work.
- Inefficacy: Feelings of incompetence and a lack of achievement and productivity at work.
For leaders, who are responsible for setting the conditions for workplace success, it is essential to find ways to address burnout so that they and their teams can stay motivated and engaged. In this blog, we provide 6 tips for leaders to consider to alleviate or prevent burnout.
1. Recognize the importance of personal well-being for you and your employees.
Physical, mental, and emotional health all play a large role in reducing burnout at work. When individuals take care of their physical and mental well-being, they become better equipped to handle stress, maintain focus, and remain resilient in the face of challenges. When leaders prioritize their own health and well-being, they encourage their team members to do the same.
Consider implementing comprehensive well-being programs such as wellness challenges, mindfulness training, yoga or meditation sessions, and access to counseling services or other resources for stress management. These well-being programs can help combat exhaustion — whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional — on the job.
2. Offer clear communication and workload management.
Transparent, frequent communication about expectations, goals, and priorities can help employees better understand their roles and responsibilities, which reduces ambiguity and can prevent cynicism and inefficacy at work. Managers should regularly communicate with their teams, offer feedback, and ensure that workloads are manageable and realistic. Communicating with team members about their workload also ensures that they are consistently engaged with their work and remaining productive.
In addition to clear communication about employees’ workload, consider offering training and resources on time management, delegation, and setting boundaries. Collaboration tools and project management systems can also streamline workflows and enhance productivity.
3. Recognize your employees’ accomplishments (and your own).
Recognizing and appreciating team members’ accomplishments boosts their morale and motivation. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they’re more likely to be engaged, enthusiastic, and committed to their work. As a leader, celebrate your teams’ and your own big wins and contributions and continually encourage professional growth and development — not only is it fun to celebrate, but it reduces inefficiency and feelings of inadequacy at work.
To recognize team members’ achievements, consider implementing recognition programs, peer-to-peer appreciation platforms, and regular feedback mechanisms to ensure that employees feel valued and acknowledged, and that they’re getting necessary feedback on their work.
4. Provide professional development and growth opportunities for your team.
Providing your employees with opportunities for learning, skill development, and career advancement can enhance employee engagement and reduce burnout. Companies with employees who learn new skills on the job have a nearly 7% higher retention rate than those who don’t, according to a LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Report. Developing new skills on the job keeps employees engaged.
Investing in training programs, mentoring initiatives, job rotations, and promotional pathways to support employees' professional growth prevents stagnation. Additionally, professional development helps fight inefficiency and encourages employees to explore new areas for productivity.5. Prioritize self-development and self-care.
In addition to focusing on your employees’ opportunities for growth, it is important to prioritize your own development needs such as training in leadership, communication, and people management skills. Mastering these skills can help you better support your team, recognize signs of burnout, and take proactive measures to address and prevent burnout. More specifically, prioritizing your own self-development and self-care limits the potential to develop symptoms of exhaustion.
Schedule regular check-ins with your manager to discuss your well-being and workload. Having opportunities for open and honest communication allows you to express concerns, discuss challenges, and seek support from your manager. Additionally, seek support from your employees, specifically on areas to address potential burnout risks.
6. Grow a social support system.
Leadership can be lonely! Leaders need to have a stable support system in place. Support from peers who are in or outside of your organization, mentoring relationships, or participating in leadership development programs are all effective ways to reduce your risk of the burnout symptom of cynicism. Having team members who you enjoy spending time with in and outside of work can also increase engagement and prevent cynicism about your role.
A recent study on the impact of mentoring found that those who participate in a mentoring relationship are significantly less likely to report burnout than employees who were not participating in a mentoring relationship. Having a mentor who is able to provide insights about their own career progression and how they have overcome stress often provides a degree of important bonding, advice and encouragement for leaders who are responsible for mitigating burnout.
TLD Group is committed to building healthier, more sustainable working environments across the health ecosystem. Get in touch today to learn how we support organizations aiming to address and prevent burnout.