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13 ways to manage your team to avoid burnout

Burnout isn’t a new phenomenon — it was identified as early as 1974 —but in May 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially recognised burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis, in its eleventh edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The effects of chronic stress are many and far-reaching. Causing poor mental and physical health across the global workforce, it takes massive tolls on productivity, and is a problem for both employer and employee alike.

There are many strategies and actionable steps that companies can take to reduce burnout and increase employee satisfaction. Below, we list 13 ways you can start combatting workforce burnout tomorrow.

Set goals and expectations early on

Be clear about the skills you’re looking for right from the start. If you expect that a role will evolve or change over time, you should make this clear during the interview process. Ensure you are hiring someone who can embrace ambiguity, or someone who can effectively communicate when a project or situation is no longer working for them. To prevent ambiguity when advertising a role, consult a recruiter on what to include in the job description.

Burnout occurs when your employees simply have too much to do, or lack the resources, skill or ability to do what’s required of them in the allotted time. 90% of the professionals we surveyed feel it’s important their goals and objectives are clearly communicated to them on a regular basis.

Use the 80/20 rule

The Pareto Principle, coined by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto and also known as the “80/20 rule”, can be especially relevant for time management. The principle says that 20% of your activity will account for 80% of your output. Ensure that you make clear to your employees what the most important tasks are, so that they can focus the bulk of their time on the tasks that will create the most impact.

Emphasise wellness and encourage time off

To prevent burnout amongst your employees actively encourage them to take paid annual leave, taking regular breaks from work will help to improve morale, productivity and mental health.

A growing trend among tech companies is to offer employees unlimited holidays, but some then admitted to having feelings of guilt when taking leave. Employers need to be mindful that just giving staff more leave isn’t really solving the issue. A closer inspection of the working culture within the organisation is required.

Consider implementing wellness initiatives within your workplace, including things like free yoga lessons, mindfulness apps and healthy snacks.

Nine in ten survey respondents feel it’s important to have adequate time to dedicate to their personal lives outside of work. Consider offering flexible or remote work to reduce work-life strain for your employees. This can also help retain your best people.

Discourage employees from adding their work email to their personal mobile devices so they aren’t tempted to ‘check in’ outside of their normal working hours. Also, show respect for your employees’ ‘home time’ by limiting non-essential work communications outside their regular hours.

Give employees autonomy and control

Only 18% of the professionals we surveyed strongly agreed that their roles and responsibilities were conveyed appropriately to them in the job description and during the interview process. That could lead to a lack of autonomy in how they do their work or even a lack of control over their future career prospects.

Ask for feedback

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of professionals would like to give anonymous feedback to their managers, but 46% of employers reveal that they ‘rarely’ give their employees the option.

Employees want to know that their contributions make a difference. It shows them that you value their input and want them to be a part of shaping the future of the business. It can also lead to increased job satisfaction and morale.

Create a clear pathways for progression

Establish clear promotion or reward pathways, and be sure to communicate exactly what needs to be accomplished to achieve a certain title, level, or salary. Managers should reference these pathways regularly in one-on-ones and reviews.

Always give feedback

Nine out of ten of those surveyed said that regular feedback was very important to them. It may be challenging or uncomfortable, but it’s clear that feedback — positive or constructive — is highly sought after by employees, helping them gauge their own performance and understand their strengths, as well as areas for improvement.

Be public about praise

A little recognition can go a long way. Recognising your top performers in internal communications, or directly in front of the team, is hugely valuable in raising employee morale.

Be fair about pay

Make sure your pay rate is competitive, fair and aligned with industry averages for an employee’s role and experience.

There are many ways for employees to measure their own pay against the industry standard. If a discrepancy is discovered, brought up, and not rectified, burnout can occur.

People want to come to work and be amongst colleagues they respect and whose company they enjoy. Culture fit raises its fair share of problems, but there are other ways to ensure your business has a sense of community where everyone belongs.

Organise social activities to encourage team bonding

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of professionals surveyed said they feel it’s important their company organises team bonding activities. Organise an activity that everyone can do together via video conferencing technology or outside of the office together if local social distancing regulations allow it. Organising social activities tells your employees that you acknowledge how hard they are working and that it’s important to your team culture to step away from the day-to-day to recharge and connect with each other.

Review your internal communication channels

There are many project management and collaboration tools available. So, do your research and find one that works well for your team, then communicate with them which channel they should be using for which purpose, allowing everyone to collaborate in one place.

Consider mentorship programmes

Almost half of respondents said they do not have a mentor available at their workplace. Starting a mentorship programme at your business is a great way to create opportunities for employees to grow and develop and give your employees peer-to-peer support to get through tough times.

Be inclusive about flexibility

Burnout can easily occur for individuals who feel they are a minority within their workplace. Flexibility is for everyone. Many organisations have begun to improve their policies for parents, offering flexibility around arrival and departure times, or even overall working hours. It’s important for businesses to remember that flexibility should extend to all members of the business.

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