How Can You Prevent Burnout in the Team You Lead?
There has been a lot of talk about burnout amongst employees throughout the pandemic and while remote working. As a Manager of a team, you must take a proactive approach to preventing burnout. Taking action to minimise the risk of burnout can reduce the prevalence of sick days and longer term absenteeism. It can also increase the level of productivity, retention and engagement of your employees. There are a lot of very practical ways to tackle this problem.
As a Leader, you must be people focused in your approach and think about the human behind the computer screen. Everyone has different stresses and things going on at any time, so burnout may occur in some people and not others. Leading with empathy, understanding and openness will allow you to be effective in trying to manage burnout in your team/s.
8 practical ways that I think you can help to reduce the risk of burnout:
Establishing a norm of ‘switching off’
The right to disconnect was written into Irish law recently. But that doesn't mean that employee’s actually follow this code of practice. When working at home, many people are putting in more hours than ever.
Productivity may be up, but so is burnout. As a leader you should be putting policies in place that encourage people to switch off when the working day is over. Being strict about not sending emails after 6pm is a good start.
Lead by example
When you put policies in place to help reduce burnout, make sure that you don't allow yourself to be an exception to the rule. Recently I was the culprit of this. I was sick but as I was at home, I felt I may as well work. If I was going into the office, perhaps I might have stayed at home to prevent making others sick but as I was at home I thought it was no big deal. But thinking back, my team seeing me show up (very visibly sick) and working, will make them think they need to do so as well. This is not a good thing. So I let them down by not leading by example. If you are sick, you need to rest and get better, not act the martyr by working when in no fit state to do so.
Make sure people use their annual leave
So many people have built up annual leave days over the pandemic. As a Manager you need to ensure that people are taking their days off. Sometimes people might need a little encouragement to take a long weekend or take a week off and just switch off. We see some companies putting policies in place about it, but generally a quiet word to a colleague about it should do the trick.
Give company days off
Recently we saw some large companies in the press giving their employees a week off to decompress and rest after a busy few months. E.g. Bumble and Zalando. This is a very nice thing to do. An effective leader should have a sense of whether there is company wide burnout and fatigue kicking in. Perhaps a week is a long time, so you could consider giving everyone a Friday and Monday off to have a long weekend.
Monitor the workload
Don't overload people with work that will drive up their stress levels and perhaps the hours they are putting in. Talk to your team members about how they are coping with the work and what aspects they might be struggling with. It seems like everyone is working flat out these days, so what can you do to reduce the load and take away roadblocks?
Simply encouraging your team to get outside and take a walk on their lunch breaks at home can have a huge impact. Making sure they know it's ok to be away from their desk and take some time out. You could set up online yoga classes that the team can share together (or at the office). Many companies have leagues for step challenges or peloton classes.
Make lunch breaks sacrosanct
It is much easier to reduce the lunch break that you take at home when working remotely. Especially if the workload is hectic. As a leader you should insist on people putting that hour into their calendar and making sure they don't set up another Zoom call during that time.
A nice idea might be to set up a lunchtime book club where everyone reads a book during their lunch hour and once a month there is a social get together to discuss that book. There is safety in knowing others are also taking that full hour.
There are a tonne of wellness options available in the market now. This can be something as simple as inviting someone in to speak to your team about wellness all the way to full programmes with access to exercise classes, an online portal with access to doctors, physio’s, counsellors, psychologists, personal trainers and more. The key is to make sure it's accessible and communicated to everyone.
These are just a few simple ideas on how to prevent or minimise the risk of burnout in your team. It is really important to be constantly talking to your team members about how they are getting on and if burnout is something they are suffering from.
If you would like to discuss any of these ideas, or suggest some also, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you. You can get me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +353 87 7546 331.
If you want to get more insights on the recruitment market or general insights that could be really useful, please visit our IT career insights page.