Finn Kelly is the co-founder and chief technology officer of The Go Game and weaveleaders in virtual, in-person and hybrid events.
A 2018 Gallup study found that approximately: 1 in 4 employees (23%) have a burnout “always” or “very often” at work. That is a large part of the workforce. And burnout can have a major impact on overall company culture, employee camaraderie, productivity and employee retention. So whether your team is working in the office or at home, it’s important to identify and address burnout however you can.
Here are a few ways you can reduce or prevent employee burnout.
1. Bring exercise into your daily routine.
Going to the gym, exercising, or trying to get to a fitness class can often feel like something on the to-do list. But if you can find a way to weave some physical activity into your workday, you might find it improves your mood and stress†
An easy way to incorporate some physical activity into your day is to have conference calls or check in on the go. Encourage your team members to be outside for meetings that don’t require as much visual focus. This can also lighten up your meetings a bit as employees can feel like they are more in their natural element and free to be themselves.
2. Don’t forget to breathe.
Some people use breathwork to help reduce stress and improve creativity, among other benefits. Consider setting aside a few minutes at the beginning or end of the day and do breathing exercises with your team. You can call in a specialist to facilitate an extra boost (and get everyone on the same page), then continue practicing at a cadence that feels right for you. Encourage your team to do breathwork themselves, as well as a way to stay present, get into their bodies and calm their nerves.
3. Create excuses to laugh.
They say that laughter is the best medicine, and there are many reasons for this: Laughter is good for you. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter has the potential to help you relax, improve your mood and fight stress. I’ve found that it can also strengthen team bonding, just to name a few highlights. Bringing laughter and humor to the workplace can be nuanced, as everyone has their own taste of being funny, but there are subtle ways to make an impact.
You can try circulating work-related jokes and comics (remember New Yorker cartoons); have fun with your email unsubscribes or out of office replies; or find excuses to play (think games, competitions, team building, betting, etc.).
4. Consider meditating.
Adding a meditation practice to your workday really only takes about five minutes of your time. And the benefits are countless. It can help you manage your stress, improve focus and stimulate creativity, the Mayo Clinic also said. Consider investing in a company subscription to a meditation app, or kick it up a notch and offer your team live sessions to get more buy-in.
5. Connect with your team.
Virtual bonding may feel like a contradiction, but there are many ways to strengthen your teams in a virtual setting. The best way to do this is to create a variety of connection and conversation opportunities, including face-to-face meetings, group events and activities, and probably something in between. Burnout can be the result of many factors, so giving people the space to talk about their well-being can help your team members feel seen and identify potential solutions.
6. Be an advocate.
Whether you notice that an employee is burned out or you have been explicitly told that they are, do your best to take care of them in whatever way you can. Help them prioritize tasks. Protect their time. Have them enforce or say no to a new project. Give them some extra time and space by offering a more flexible schedule. Connect them to any wellness programs or tools that may be helpful for their current situation. In a crisis, small gestures really make an impact and can lead to significant results.
7. Lead by example.
Managers have a lot of power in setting the tone for their team in everything they do. If you never take time off or email at all hours of the day and night, your team may feel pressured to do the same. So, relax a little. Take an occasional vacation or sick day. Do not send emails outside office hours unless absolutely necessary. Share when you’re having a bad day or having a hard time. It will enable your team members to do the same and gain a little head start.
Whatever tools or solutions you choose to minimize or prevent burnout in the future, the most important thing is to be proactive and stay vigilant. Look for the signals, ask the right questions and take action where possible. Hopefully you will leave a lasting impact and strengthen your team in the process.