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Recognising and addressing workplace burnout

Recognising and addressing workplace burnout

Workplace burnout isn't new, but it really came to the fore during Covid when we needed to juggle working from home with family responsibilities and a reduction in freedom. Being able to work remotely gave some sense of normality, but it often came with a feeling we needed to be available at any hour to our managers and stakeholders.

As a leader responsible for the wellbeing of your team, recognising and addressing workplace burnout is a key part of your role. The positive thing is that once you know what to look for and have mastered some resolution techniques, you'll be well on the path to helping your people.

What are the signs of burnout?

Although people demonstrate burnout in different ways, the most common signals are increased time away from work, decreased productivity or goals achieved and a general feeling of job dis-satisfaction. You can help by regularly checking in with your team and creating a safe space where they feel comfortable coming to you with concerns, with the understanding that there won't be any adverse repercussions, you are there to listen and help.

How can you reduce burnout?

This requires an understanding of how your team feel, including regular checking in around workloads and priorities. Do their objectives need to be reset? Are you providing the right resources and support? Simple tactics like encouraging people to take breaks or giving them time out for self-care can be integral to reducing burnout. Encouraging people to take regular holidays and not accumulate annual leave is important; the best thing you can do here is lead by example and take your own leave when due.

What wellbeing resources do you provide?

Many wellbeing programmes are free and encompass both physical and mental wellbeing. There are also confidential employee assistance programmes which give practical advice on how to navigate stressors in the workplace. Encouraging people to feel safe and providing them with an avenue for external and objective advice is important. In the post Covid world, flexible working arrangements that can help people manage their family and the outside world are sought-after benefits that can encourage wellbeing.

How do you train your managers?

Often managers achieve their position because they are technically good at the job, but instilling effective communication and soft skills in your leaders is important. Helping managers to recognise the signs of burnout with the ability to have open discussions with their team is crucial to providing an environment where team members feel comfortable asking for support.

How often do you review your team's workload?

Despite quarterly plans and workflow management, there are often urgent tasks or a heavier workload that can put pressure on team members. One of your roles as a manager is to regularly assess workload to ensure they are achievable by your team member, as well as aligning to current business priorities. This could be achieved in a regular one-on-one session or as a team where tasks can be shared between the team.

Establishing open communication, being aware of potential issues, checking in with your team, ensuring they are taking breaks and providing recognition, are important steps to ensuring that your people feel safe, supported and motivated to perform their role and avoid burnout. In turn, this has huge benefits to your team and your organisation.

Author: Peter Robinson
Team Management Services