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How to prevent burnout on your team

Jul 8, 2020 | Effective leaders, Employee engagement

In this blog Liz dicusses some of the key behaviours of leaders and managers that can help prevent burnout of their teams.

According to a recent survey done by Gallup, 76% of employees will experience burnout at least once during their careers.

We often make the assumption that employee burnout is a result of being overworked and so we try to fix the burnout by working fewer hours…we think that taking a holiday or a day off here and there will do the trick.

However, research done by Gallup showed that, although the number of hours people work each week does play a role, with the risk of burnout increasingly significantly when people work more than 50 hours a week, it is actually HOW people experience their workload that has a stronger bearing on burnout.

Their research showed that engaged employees who have job flexibility tend to work more hours than the average employee, AND they report higher levels of wellbeing.

When people feel inspired, motivated and supported in their work, they do more work — and in addition to that, they find their work substantially less stressful.

In other words, it’s not just the number of hours you work; it’s how you’re managed and how you experience work during those hours that matters most.

5 Factors

Gallup found that the top five factors that influence employee burnout are:

Unfair treatment at work;
Unmanageable workload;
Unclear communication from managers;
Lack of manager support; and
Unreasonable time pressure.

Now when we look at this list we see that these are all things that the manager can influence considerably.

5 Leadership practices

What we thought would be a sprint at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is now turning into a marathon. Leaders and managers will need to be far more deliberate about helping prevent employee burnout. Based on the findings of Gallup’s research, the five best things you can do as a manager to help prevent burnout on your team are to:

  1. Help ensure your employees are treated fairly.
  2. And that their workloads are manageable.
  3. That you communicate clearly and regularly with your team members.
  4. You support them in all they need to do. Engage in regular dialogue around this as to how they would like you to support them and agree a way forward.
  5. Set reasonable timelines for the completion of their work. For best practices around setting expectations watch my video ‘Closing the gap between expectation and reality’.

Yes, leaders, managers and employees in general all need the occasional break. But unless you address the root causes of burnout, time off will have little effect. Employees who regularly experience burnout are 2.6 times more likely to actively look for a new job. Now is not the time for you to be losing your best people. Now is the time for you to manage your people effectively.

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