5 Ways to Help Your Team Beat Burnout
More than ever, leaders need to make sure their teams are coping with the changes brought on by COVID. People are juggling caring responsibilities with increased workloads, and with a significant degree of uncertainty for the future, people's resilience is being tested.
The CIPD's excellent Health and Wellbeing at Work 2021 Survey identified that Over two-fifths (42%) of respondents are ‘extremely concerned about the impact of the pandemic on employees’ mental health.
Mobile working methods make it difficult to switch off, blurring the lines between work and home; burnout has become an increasing problem; the mental health charity 'Mental Health UK' identified that just 23%of of people knew what plans their employers had in place to help spot signs of chronic stress and burnout in employees.
Everyone is unique, and so is their tolerance for stress levels. So how can leaders help their colleagues through this challenging time?
Assess how you are managing your team's workload
Planning your work - Do the team know what work is coming? Have you shared your future planning? Can you delay or eliminate non-essential tasks for the team?
Delegating tasks - Are you delegating fairly to all team members and not putting strain on specific high achieving individuals? Are you monitoring and encouraging your teams to trust where possible?
Saying no - A powerful tool; it will protect your team from an ever-expanding task list and show that it is acceptable to control the flow of requests. Saying no can be accompanied by good planning; try 'not now but later', giving you and your team time to prepare and plan around other requirements.
Letting go of perfectionism - Sometimes, good enough is good enough. Overdelivering is as inefficient as underdelivering. A good leader will never trade in long term stability for a quick win.
A Change of Pace
After your team has completed a challenging task, it can help to switch to something a bit easier. Try to avoid back to back large transformational projects and make sure the team have time after a large piece of work to catch up on housekeeping and routine tasks.
Athletes build in recovery after periods of high performance to avoid injury and give their body and mind time to prepare for the next event; we should apply this to our team's performance.
Make sure your teams are taking their breaks, lunch and annual leave. Too often, leaders proudly announce that they don't have time for lunch or holidays; this is counterproductive as, through tiredness, leaders will be less effective and prone to poor decisions.
Lead from the front, demonstrate it is ok to take breaks, and your team will follow suit, reducing the risk of burnout.
Sometimes it's tough to switch off. Emails are checked in traffic, notes are typed up on the sofa at night, and phone calls are made on the school run.
Your actions are contagious; your team will follow your lead. It may feel like you are pushing ahead and getting things done, but mental breaks are required. Avoid contacting your team out of hours and setting timelines that force out of hours work.
Feeling out of control, micromanaged and not having enough time or resources can contribute to burnout. Think about whether you contact your teams after hours. This is reducing your team's control over their working time.
Be precious of other people's time, appreciate your colleagues will have planned their workload, and any request, conversation, or meeting will need to be well considered. Constant interruptions cause tasks to build up, increasing the risk of burnout.
An incredible 17.2 million days are lost annually to mental health issues in the UK; how many of these could have been avoided by more significant leadership intervention?