How to Help Your Employees Avoid and Overcome Burnout

Leadership Coaching, Reducing Stress
12/18/20 - Jennifer Maynard

Burnout is something we have all suffered from at some point. Whether you are the one experiencing the burnout or you are witnessing others experience it – it’s painful. When it comes to helping your employees avoid and overcome burnout there are a few things you can do. 

Educate Your Team on the Signs of Burnout

Help them understand how to avoid burnout before it occurs. As a leader you can teach and guide your employees. Share with them tools and resources on burnout. Discuss some of the ways they can draw attention to their burnout and overcome it.

If you help everyone understand what burnout looks like they are more likely to avoid it. Additionally, this creates an open dialogue between all employees. This means that Bob may sit Sally down and have a conversation with her if he sees signs of burnout. It ensliss the whole team in supporting each other, which can take some of the burden off of you. 

Coach Sara wrote a great article on how to avoid burnout. In the article she highlights a few things we can focus on individually that avoid and overcome burnout. 

Three of my favorite tips Coach Sara highlighted are:
  • When we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it’s impossible to objectively look at a situation and see what is needed to achieve the outcomes we desire. Shifting our state is key to get into the right headspace to feel and do our best. One simple strategy you can try to shift your state is taking a few deep breaths when you are feeling overwhelmed and ask yourself a few core questions: What is the outcome I want? What is most important now to achieve this? What do I need to do to make it happen? Our brain will answer the questions we ask it, so keep them objective and empowering and see where those answers take you. 
  • Managing your energy is key to being productive and to avoid burnout. Even if you know what you need to do and the best way to go about doing it, as the saying goes “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” What is one change you can prioritize with your health today? An extra hour of sleep? Optimizing your diet? Or increasing your physical activity? Any of these steps can lead to big energy gains.
  • While you may have the right mindset and environment to avoid burnout and be productive, if you don’t have the right tools or approach you are still out of luck. Making your ideal outcomes a reality requires an organized plan to see you through. Create intentionality with your day by planning ahead, building a schedule, and staying organized.
  • Another tool to address and prevent burnout is integrating a yoga and meditation practice. These practices promote mindfulness, resilience, and balance, offering employees tools to manage stress and maintain well-being. By incorporating these techniques, teams can foster a culture of self-care and support, ultimately enhancing productivity and overall workplace satisfaction.

Support Your Team by Asking the Right Questions

Asking the right questions is crucial to providing support to your employees.

Don’t ask:
  • How can I help you? (Implies they are helpless.)
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed? (They may say no to avoid looking bad.)
  • Are you burned out? (Who wants to admit that to their manager?)
Instead ask something that is more supportive:
  • Are there any tasks on your plate I can take off?
  • Have you been balancing your work and personal life enough?
  • Would you like support identifying which tasks on your plate are the top priority?
  • What project/task is challenging you the most right now?
  • What are you working on right now that is bringing you joy?
  • Have you had any wins lately you’d like to celebrate?

Deeper questions that don’t imply the employee is helpless will allow them to ask for the help they need. 

Lend an Empathetic Ear

Sometimes we just want to be heard. What we hear may be painful for us, but it’s much needed. I know I’ve had times where I just needed a manager to know how I felt and I spent a few meetings back to back letting them know. Eventually I was able to come up with a solution to solve my problem and was able to overcome the burnout. But if they didn’t give me their ear, truly listen and support me with empathy, I would haven’t been able to come out of the spiral. 

Be Flexible

This can mean many things in today’s world. Flexible schedule, statement of work, expectations, due date. Only you can decide what can be flexed and make it happen. But take a look at how you can flex the world around them to make it more accommodating. This doesn’t mean bending the rules or making permanent changes to process/culture, but it may mean some short term flexibility to help them dig out of a hole. 

Assess Your Leadership and Make Changes

What are you doing that is contributing to burnout? What could you be doing to help your team avoid burnout? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I communicating clearly with transparency and vulnerability?
  • Does my team know what they are expected to do and when it’s due?
  • Am I delegating work properly?
  • Are we working to build a strong team culture?
  • Is my workplace safe and filled with trust?
  • Do my employees know how to prioritize their work without my help?
  • Is everyone working to solve their own problems and not coming to me for solutions?
A man holding a lit lightbulb with string lights

If you said no to any of these it’s time to take a hard look at your leadership skills and build a plan to set yourself up for success. Helping your employees avoid and overcome burnout will go a long way. If you’d like to talk to one of our relationship strategists about leadership coaching and how working with a leadership coach can help you schedule a free conversation here

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