Avoiding burnout

Mike Leigh
by Mike Leigh, President

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal was titled “American Workers Are Burned Out, and Bosses Are Struggling to Respond”.  Over 4 million Americans have quit their jobs for the past six months in a row.  Our working hours are expanding, and the labor shortage continues.

Organizations are asking their teams to work harder, but many of us are getting burned out.  It seems like this is a vicious, downward spiral, so how do we prevent employee burnout?

According to a recent article by Adam Bornstein in Entrepreneur magazine, instead of thinking of how we prevent burnout, we should ask ourselves how we fill employees with energy, creativity, excitement, and fulfillment.

Rarely do long hours alone cause burnout.  Have you ever started a new job and put in extra hours to get up-to-speed, yet still felt energized?  The same happened to me when I started my business.  My hours increased, but I was motivated and excited to do well.

Here are some suggestions from Bornstein to reduce burnout:

  • Embrace time off.  Don’t save all vacation time for the end of the year (or not use it at all!)  If possible, consider offering unlimited vacation time to your team.  I have no formal vacation policy in my business and my team members can take time off whenever they need to.  I trust them, and they have always been there for me when I need them.
  • Remove the fear of failure.  It’s mentally draining to work in a culture where mistakes are not tolerated.  It’s up to leaders to remove this fear so your employees are less stressed and more creative.
  • Invest in personal growth.  Everyone on your team should pursue growth and improvement, in both their personal and professional lives.  We are either green and growing or ripe and rotting.  As a leader, your employees will value working for you when you can help them pursue their most important goals.  This includes understanding what each employee’s career goals are and helping them get there.
  • Encourage deep thought.  When employees run constantly in a tactical execution mode, it’s hard to think strategically about opportunities.  Many organizations recognize this need and plan dedicated time for uninterrupted thought and deep work.  Consider scheduling a 2–4-hour block in your calendar each week, or scheduling “no meeting or calling” days when your team can work with fewer interruptions.

Previously published in Valley Business Front Magazine, April 2022


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