Tips for Avoiding Burnout

Employee burnout occurs when chronic fatigue causes an employee’s performance to drastically reduce, usually due to overworking and stress. The issues can be physical and/or emotional and the consequences can range from a drop in performance to losing employment. It is essential managers identify and deal with burnout as effectively as possible in the interests of the employee’s wellbeing and the organisation’s performance. Whilst managers are responsible for looking after their team, it is also important they look after themselves also and identifying signs of burnout in your own behaviour is also important. Below we have set out some tips for avoiding burnout, for yourself and your team members. All team members are different and some of the tips may be more appropriate for some than others, so it is important you choose the correct methods for your team members.

1.Opportunities for Professional Development 

It is common for employees to get stressed and lose motivation if they do not believe what they are doing is advancing their career. Therefore, as a manager you can ensure your team members are all receiving opportunities to advance their career. This may come in the form of training, new projects or new job roles.

2.Praise and Recognition

A little praise and recognition can go along way when it comes to keeping your team’s morale high. Acknowledging the hard work your team are doing can help to motivate them to work hard. However, burnout can occur when hard work goes ignored and individuals feel as though no one is appreciating their effort. Recognition does not have to be financial or in the form of a promotion, although these methods can also work.

3.Identify Warning Signs

The easiest way to avoid burnout from occurring in your team is to recognise it is happening as quickly as possible. Low levels of burnout are almost impossible to avoid in demanding organisations, so it is up to you, as a manager, to recognise when this is happening. You then have the power to reduce workloads, allow time off or delegate support to that individuals.

4.Monitor Individual Workloads

In a large, busy team it is easy for some individuals to become responsible for large proportions of the work, without it being noticed. If this happens their work can become very stressful and they may start to feel isolated. Managers should monitor workloads of their team members and ensure they remain similar in order to stop this happening.

5.Professional Coaching

Professional coaching has been shown to have a positive impact on employee performance and wellbeing. It is not just the advice that coaches can give, but also the opportunity for team members to discuss their problems, that can impact the employee.

6.Have Contingency Plans in Place

Times of stress and hard work, which can often lead to burnout, are often caused by a sudden change in procedures. Therefore, to avoid this, it is important to have plans in place for a situation like this occurring. Whether this is the loss of a supplier, team members leaving or a change in consumer demand, having plans in place for all kinds of scenarios helps to alleviate stress if they do occur.

7.Delegate Tasks Based on Skill-Set and Interests

Employees find work more rewarding and enjoyable when they are completing tasks that are appropriate for them. Therefore, it is important to delegate tasks to your team members that they want to do. However, pushing your team members out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to attempt different things is also an excellent way to develop them. As you can see, developing your employees and giving them tasks they enjoy is a difficult trade-off for any managers.

8.Utilise Training Schemes

A common cause of workplace stress and burnout is being underequipped for the task at hand. Therefore, formal training offered by your organisation will help to alleviate some of this pressure. If training schemes aren’t already in place, this may be an area you can suggest to senior management if you notice your team are lacking the necessary skills.

9.Time Management

Time management is one of the most essential skills for avoiding employee burnout. Controlling time-scales and deadlines is the responsibility of the manager and the team members. Team members should be in control of their work, but if too much work has been delegated or an individual gets behind it is up to the manager to support them. For more information about time management, click here.

10. Create a Supportive Environment

Team members should feel comfortable asking for help, whether it is work-related or not. An environment where your team feel comfortable discussing their issues is likely to help to reduce stress and improve morale.

11. Set the Example

As a manager, you set the example for your team. This means your work ethic, client relationships and presentation all resonates throughout your team. However, this can also work in a negative way. If you are working long hours and running yourself into the ground it is likely your team will believe they should be doing this too. What works for you, won’t necessarily work for others so make sure they are aware they can make their own decisions, to ensure burnout doesn’t occur.

12. Create an Enjoyable Working Atmosphere 

The atmosphere people work in has a major effect on their workplace wellbeing and performance. It is up to the manager to create an atmosphere where team members feel comfortable to ask questions, express themselves and ask for work extensions if it is necessary. Alternatively, an atmosphere where individuals are pressurised to meet deadlines and work long hours is likely to increase stress and, ultimately, lead to burnout

13. Avoid Fighting Fire with Fire

It is common for employees to have an unmanageable workload, work late to complete it, be tired the next day and let the work build up again. This will create a cycle of hard work and stress and is likely to lead to burnout. Leaving at a reasonable time and getting a good night’s sleep will always benefit you in the long-term, regardless of your current workload.