Everybody knows that you have to work hard if you want to be successful—but even hard work has its limits. You can push yourself too far—or take too few breaks—and end up with a bad case of burnout; then, all your hard work may actually wind up counterproductive.
I talk to a lot of business owners who are eager to do what they can to achieve some balance in their lives, and to prevent burnout as best they can. It seems to me that the first step toward preventing burnout is understanding what really causes it. So let’s take a quick look at some of the science behind burning out.
The Real Cause of Burnout
Psych Central just published a new report that’s illuminating. All of us have unconscious needs—physical, mental, and emotional ones—and we also have demands within our professional lives. According to the Psych Central article, burnout comes when there is a mismatch between the needs and the demands.
“For example, burnout may happen to an outgoing accountant who seeks to make new friendships but whose job offers little opportunity to do so, or perhaps to a manager who does not enjoy taking center-stage or being in a leadership role,” Psych Central says. “In both of these examples, there is a mismatch between the employees’ individual needs and the requirements on the job.”
Practical Implications of Burnout
So what does this really tell us about burnout? On one level, it’s pretty simple: You have certain needs in order to be truly motivated and energized, and you’re going to resist burnout so long as your daily responsibilities meet those needs.
Maybe a good place to start is with a self-inventory. Admittedly, this is where things get a little more complicated, but it’s still worthwhile to ask yourself the following questions:
- What motivates you? Think through the tasks or responsibilities that leave you feeling the most pumped up—the most energized.
- Which daily activities or responsibilities seem to drain you the most? These are likely going to be the things you dread the most.
- How emotionally satisfied does your job really leave you? Do you think a change of position is needed to have a truly satisfying work life?
- Think also of your employees. How well are their personality types and internal motivations paired with their responsibilities? If your team is generally low on motivation or on energy, it could be because you’ve given everyone ill-fitting roles.
According to the article, “interventions that prevent or repair such mismatches could increase well-being at work and reduce the risk of burnout.” So even if your needs and your daily demands are not well-matched, there’s still time for you to take action and be proactive against burnout!
Steps to Prevent Employee Burnout
Today’s employees are overworked and overstressed. That’s just not my opinion: There are statistics to back it up, including recent reporting from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plus plenty of anecdotal evidence from business owners around the country.
It’s an important issue, not least because it impacts the bottom line of your business: Overwhelmed and burned-out employees simply aren’t as productive, as energetic, or as creative as problem solvers.
The way to beat burnout is through engagement—bringing your employees into a better understanding of the big picture and their place within it. Employees won’t feel like they’re drowning in thankless work when they see what the vision is and how their part makes a difference.
How Leaders Can Curb Employee Burnout
Additionally, let me recommend three specific ways to help your employees stay engaged rather than burned out.
- Give your employees someone they can talk to. Employees who feel alone are more likely to struggle with burnout. Create small discussion groups in your company to help employees feel connected to one another, and to a broader sense of community. Make sure these discussion group are true safe spaces where anything can be said.
- Don’t neglect the little things. Encouraging employees to go for a quick walk around the building, allowing them to cut out an hour early on Friday, offering an afternoon to decorate the office for the holidays—these little things add up, and help stressed employees to feel a little bit more appreciated.
- Keep the focus on productivity. Things like how many hours your employees spend at the office don’t really matter; these aren’t meaningful metrics. Instead, focus on how much they are accomplishing toward your broader goals and objectives. Again, emphasize the big picture, and how each employee fits within it.
Burnout Can Be Beat
As an executive coach, I see burnout all the time—and I also see team leaders beating it, reinvigorating and re-engaging their teams. I hope these tips will help you to do exactly that.
Dr. Rick Goodman CSP is a thought leader in the world of leadership and one of the most sought after conference keynote speakers on leadership, engagement, and business growth in the United States and internationally.
He is the author of the books Living A Championship Life “A Game Plan for Success” and My Team Sucked “10 Rules That Turned Them Into Rock Stars.” He is also the co-author of the book Jamie’s Journey: Travels with My Dad, written with his sixteen-year-old daughter Jamie.
Dr. Rick is famous for helping organizations, corporations, and individuals with systems, strategies, and solutions that encourage engagement, resulting in increased profits and productivity without having the challenges of micromanaging the process. Some of Dr. Rick’s clients include Heineken, AT&T, Boeing, Cavium Networks, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Franklin Templeton Investments.
You can contact Dr. Rick at www.rickgoodman.com or call 888-267-6098.