Did you know that burnout has been a rapidly progressing global epidemic on its own? The WHO in 2019 had classified burnout in its International Classification of Diseases as an occupational phenomenon. The pandemic has only accelerated the organizational challenges to employee well-being especially with more focus on mental health.
Organizations are taking diverse measures to keep their employees physically and emotionally fit. And yet, the rates of burnout and the percentage of employees coping with stress are at an all-time high!
Irrespective of whether the job demands long hours of work or not, employees are stressed, exhausted, and neglecting their health. While some have caregivers at home, others need to balance their health and job simultaneously – often resulting in jobs getting prioritized over health.
This is where good leadership comes into play. Adopting the right management styles and the best practices to stay in contact with your employees is vital to know how they are doing. It will help you prevent employee burnout while also staying in a healthy mental space yourself.
The fact is that everybody faces burnout and pressure. You might be a fresher wishing to prove yourself and work extra hours. You might be a senior leader who wishes to retain your hard-earned reputation. You might be very enthusiastic to work but do not recognize how much pressure you are subjecting your body to.
What are symptoms of burnout?
Burnout can be witnessed in various ways by different people. Some common telltale signs include:
- You are no longer excited by things that used to make you happy
- You notice a lack of energy and enthusiasm
- You find it hard to focus and concentrate on the tasks at hand
- You get frequent headaches you cannot explain
- You can feel physical pains in pressure points
- You are dissatisfied and feel it is never enough no matter how much you do
- You get irritated over trivial matters which is not in your nature
- You notice insomnia and an inability to sleep peacefully at night
- You feel a lack of connection with the team or your family
One of the best ways to notice these symptoms is to stay in touch with your employees even when there is no meeting scheduled. Talk to them simply to know how they are doing – not to get a status update or for some professional reason. Try to ask them how they are doing and observe their responses and body language for the above signs.
And while we are on the topic of noticing the signs, there are more ways for turning into better leaders. Let us take a deep dive into some ways managers and leaders can keep their teams active and in a good state of mental health.
Frequent touchpoints with your team
It is of paramount importance that managers build a culture of compassion that drives the team and stay in touch with their employees frequently. According to Sripriyaa Venkataraman, Founder and Leadership and Executive Coach at Global Coaching Lab, certain norms need to be set in place in the company.
“Establish some norms in your team or within your organization for everybody to express their feelings. Ensuring that there is a law of compassion, kindness, and empathy built into people and their engagements so that they can put in the same level of work but in a non-threatened manner.”
This is indeed important as it can help you and your employees know each other on a personal level and know when someone is struggling. If someone feels overwhelmed, they can trust the team to listen to them with an unjudgmental ear. As managers, you must note that they do not feel intimidated to approach you. You can always ask them to open about their lives by stating yours.
Being proactive and encourage off days
Encourage open communication in the team and proactively ensure that everybody follows it. “My manager implemented something called the ‘open door policy.’ It gave us space to enter his cabin at any moment and share our grievances or suggestions. There have been countless moments when I have entered and shared what is on my mind and asked for a reduction in workload. He always welcomed me and made it a safe space to share my thoughts,” said Kirti, an employee at a reputed banking firm in Chennai.
It is important to make holidays and breaks the norm. Strictly discourage employees from working during the weekend or after office hours. Take short breaks to set an example and show your employees they are permitted to do the same. It will help the team get rid of the always-available mindset and take time to unwind.
It works to relieve stress and improve your productivity by taking a short break or getting up to stretch your muscles. Permit yourself and your employees to relax and head out for casual lunch breaks or coffee breaks. It will help you and the team stay creative and mentally active without stressing themselves out. If they are unable to take breaks due to excessive workloads, it is a sign for you to reallocate the work.
Reward and recognize your employees
If you notice your employees losing focus, the best way to get them on track is to give them something to work towards. If they are constantly asking, “What’s the point of even doing this??” – this is the ideal time to tell them, “This is why. Because you will get three days off on paid leave if you manage to crack this project.”
This incentive model has worked wonders for many companies and continues to help employees stay in the game. They feel recognized and accomplished – giving them a purpose to stay in the team. Celebrate employee accomplishments in the way that they prefer it.
“Our HR team never promises any rewards for the staff. They simply mention the reward criteria and we are open to fixing our rewards. They let us know their desired budget and we can decide if we want an Amazon gift card, one month of free Netflix membership, or a team lunch outing. It is our choice on how we wish to celebrate our success sponsored by the office,” said an employee at a well-known digital marketing agency in Bengaluru.
Be transparent and keep your promises
Can you believe that almost 44% of employees quit their jobs because their managers do not keep up their promises? They are promised incentives and salary increments but fail to receive any updates once the task is complete.
This calls for a need to be transparent and let your employees know off the bat what is possible and what the team can afford. It is pointless to make promises you cannot keep and disappoint your employees. Another 42% of employees tend to quit due to their managers constantly overworking them.
In such cases, it helps to be open and honest with your team. Let them know which tasks are due when and what the consequences are if they fail to deliver. It will help the team prioritize their tasks better and get the job done without stress and overwork.
Give your team the resources and breathing room to get things done. Be transparent and permit them to take breaks provided it keeps them creative and productive. Most employees face burnout due to constant neglect of their health. To combat this, stay in touch with them and support their endeavors.
Compensate them well for their contributions and incentivize them to go on. Promote a healthy culture of compassion and empathy to keep everyone on track while also getting the work done on time. A good leader knows how to treat each of his employees and manage different people differently. At the end of the day, the team needs to make their work meaningful and find a purpose to work.
Yes, the business needs to grow, and a lot of change needs to be welcomed. But some people tend to feel overwhelmed while coping with change and adapting to new circumstances. Keep your team on the same page and make everyone feel heard and respected at every stage of the change.
Give your team regular feedback and welcome constructive criticism from them. Ensure that everyone is positive and energetic to get work done. Encourage friendly competition and avoid making people feel unrecognized or unappreciated. There must be clarity and compassion in every move your team makes.
Want to learn more about rising to the occasion and ensuring your team does not face burnout? At the same time, you can learn to focus on yourself and avoid getting burned out yourself. Click here to center your leadership holistically and systematically become a role model for your team.