Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Emma Miller – a Sydney-based writer and contributor at Bizzmark blog. Her opinions are her own.
When you picture “burnout”, does it seem like a slew of brewing issues that have piled up and created one huge Boss of an issue, or a sudden energy low nobody saw coming? While the truth is much closer to the former, employers often fail to see the early burnout signals and prevent it.
If you are craving clever, easy-to-implement methods for tackling potential burnout within your team or organisation as a whole, and thus improve your overall productivity, here are a few tried and tested strategies that will keep your employees happy and productive.
1. Reshape the notion of a reboot
An employee keeps calling in sick? Nobody who enjoys their work or feels genuinely appreciated for it will play hooky, or get sick so frequently for that matter. Either way, this employee is in dire need for a solid reboot, to restore their energy levels and escape the pressure that has obviously piled up enough to affect their health and productivity. To be able to work more, sometimes people actually need to work less.
However, if they feel that taking time off will be perceived badly, it’s up to you to find the right angle – maybe they would appreciate working from home one or two days a week. A recent survey showed that 60% of employees believe that remote work is beneficial for their teams. Or more flexible hours, that might take the edge off. Give them a chance to design their own time off, maybe that means ditching vacation altogether for the sake of a few work-free days when they’re fed up with stress.
2. Prioritize work-life balance
Your employees already spend at least eight hours every day at work, not to mention those who commute and spend an extra two or three hours getting there and back again. Such routine that keeps them away from their families and social lives is bound to take a toll and symptoms will easily reflect poorly on their work performance.
On the other hand, employees with fulfilled lives are happy to spend time working, it gives them a sense of purpose and value, so they end up working over 20% harder than those out of balance. So be creative, ensure regular conversations with HR, offer them a free gym membership, gift cards, tickets to an event you know their family will appreciate, give them an extra hour or two on a special occasion such as an anniversary. A happier, healthier employee is an employee that will work with vigour and energy.
3. A well-structured company culture
Nothing wreaks havoc on a team’s energy quite like a draining working environment with a narrow-minded culture. There’s no money in this world that can keep an employee in a company that affects their performance and their well-being poorly. Research has shown that in order to keep your employees motivated, you need to think outside of their wallets, and switch to the realm of their social needs.
Nurturing an appreciative company culture by continuously providing feedback and assistance where needed helps employees feel like a valued part of your organization, and instills trust in your leadership. Give them room to fail and implement their own innovative strategies to tackle their tasks, and their creativity will flourish. This will boost their productivity and make them feel their input is valued and their abilities are taken seriously without the unrealistic pressure of succeeding every single time.
4. Transparent communication
There’s much more to those team building sessions that meets the eye. They, much like your corporate workshops and daily team meetings, are opportunities to engage, involve your employees and keep them in the loop. It’s one thing to answer all of your employees’ questions, but completely another to give them answers before they even ask.
Furthermore, when everyone feels like a genuine part of the team and the entire structure thanks to transparency, they will have a clear insight into their role in the company. Changes are an integral part of every business, but if a crisis comes up, wouldn’t an entire team be more likely to solve it rather than one manager? Also, communication is a two-way street, and perhaps you as a manager can adjust your attitude in accordance with your employees’ feedback, and boost their performance as a final result.
Finally, the more you keep your business a fluid structure, the more your employees will feel open to express their needs, and you’ll be more able to meet them appropriately, before the burnout has a chance to take its toll on their performance. In essence, prevention is your best bet, but even if it comes to a burnout, use it as a learning opportunity to improve the way you run your business.