After publishing last week’s blog regarding who is at fault when someone burns out, I wanted to highlight what companies could do to prevent their employees from burning out.
First of all create an environment that is open and friendly.
Manage the workload well. Assign tasks to employees who have the capacity and right skill set. Know how much work an employee can manage. Make sure your work environment has an
open speak up culture, where issues like workload, working relationships, etc. can be discussed.
Have good managers. Managers should not just be smart and knowledgeable, but they also should have empathy. If your team consists of 5 people, chances are that the way you need to manage the individuals will need a different approach for each one of them. One might be a self-starter who would doesn’t need much direction or support, then another might need more of a direction and a regular check in would be beneficial. Someone might be an introvert who will not speak up in meetings but has high analytical skills, which are very valuable and you need to utilize that without making him/her feel uncomfortable in meetings. Another employee might be extroverted and too much quite time working on excels will make him/her want to jump out of the window.
Have good people. If all of your team are high performers but a bunch of a-holes, that won’t end well. Even if just 1-2 folks have clashing personalities this can cause unrest in the hole team. If there is a harmony loving person a constant conflict within the team can be perceived as stressful and can contribute to folks burning out. Obviously you don’t want all the same personalities, but some personalities work better with others and some not. As a manager this is your job to manage.
Support your employees with development programs. Developing your employees strength and weaknesses should be a no brainer. Ensuring they are the best versions of themselves while giving them the opportunity to grow on the job or with education will make them feel valued and supported. And not just with development of skills for that particular job, but also potential future jobs and personality development should be provided.
Provide a good mix of freedom, flexibility, responsibility and inclusion.
Freedom in a sense how the employees can do their work. Give them the freedom to express themselves and contribute in the best possible way.
Flexibility in terms of where and when the work is being done. Working parents for example have a lot on their plates and need to organize a million things. Supporting them with flexibility will go a long way and they will contribute to your company best.
Give them responsibility! In my 20 years plus work experience I came across a lot of people. The ones that had a specific responsibility took that very seriously and most of the time delivered on a constant base.
Make sure you listen to your employees. If they feel included and heard they will more likely feel part of the company and therefore the personal distance between themselves and work, which is associated with burnout will be smaller.
Set clear expectations. An unclear direction and a lack of clarity regarding goals and how to reach them is common in many burnout cases. Also when I was burning out I was chasing goals that I didn’t know how to reach and when I reached them. Be more critical… how will I know when I was critical enough?
And finally, value your employees. All of them came to your company at some point for a reason. They wanted to join and you or your predecessors saw something in them that made them think, that person can contribute to my company/team. Even if the situation in terms of strategy or goals changes. Good managers can work with employees to their strength, whatever they are, so that they feel appreciated and can also contribute to the company.