What you can do if an employee is burning out

With the extremely challenges we are facing in 2020 and the dire warnings and predictions thrown at us from the news and social media, I think we can all agree that it is a particularly stressful period and it’s quite possible your employees are heading towards burnout as a result.

In last week’s article I shared the symptoms and signs of burnout.

Reliable employees starting to fall behind or miss goals, people forgetting things, short tempers, possibly even an unusual silence in the workplace are all possible signs of burnout.

Burnout is a chronic condition that’s not easy to manage or overcome, so if you think you can see a team member heading that way, don’t ignore it.

Here are the steps you can take to relieve the stresses before your people burn out.

Strategies to prevent burnout.

  • Make sure your people have the skills and resources they need to complete the task.
  • Offer regular training updates so people are confident in their skills.
  • Set clear goals for each employee so they understand what is expected of them and by when.
  • Don’t allow people to keep working long hours or to always take on the jobs which others refuse. Make sure they have time off and some sort of work-life balance.
  • Check the workload of each team member. Work changes hands without you always knowing about it. Make the effort to track how people are performing.
  • Be available when you’re needed and make it a normal part of the week to chat to each team member.
  • Take time out as a team and go off for lunch – get away from the workplace. It’s important to get away from the pressure and enjoy each other as individuals.
  • Remind your people how important they are to you and to the workplace and acknowledge their good work. Try to keep it within the context of what is and is not their responsibility.
  • Make health part of your team conversations. Normalise it. Remind people that they need to look after themselves and that you’ll always support them. Model the behaviours you want your people to adopt, namely speaking up when they need to.
  • Examine your own performance as leader. Are you giving your team the kind of leadership they need right now? Do they need more hands-on from you? If you’re not sure, ask them. Remember the leadership role isn’t static; it should change according to the situation and to the needs of your team.
  • Look for the positives in every situation. Don’t ignore the negatives, but don’t let your team make them bigger than they are. That might mean challenging a person’s negative thought patterns or presenting news with a positive slant. It’s OK to do so because you’re bringing some balance to the way the person is thinking.
  • Consider joining with your team in a workshop on resilience and mental toughness which provides tools and insight into how to manage ourselves through stressful times.

If you suspect someone is starting to burn out, don’t wait for them to come to you. Take the initiative and have a chat. It’s your job to lead and that means making sure your people can do their jobs.

Remember, the reasons for employee burnout are varied and they don’t always spring from a workplace cause. You may not be able to help them with everything, but you can certainly ease the pressures they experience at work.

Have you dealt with workplace burnout? How did you handle it?

linda murray burnout strategies
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