Dealing with Staff Burnout

No matter what business you’re in, if your business employs people, there’s a chance that staff burnout will become a challenge at some point if it hasn’t already. Dealing with staff burnout as an effective leader means getting honest with yourself and your team, which can get tricky. But it’s worth it to avoid disengaged employees, subpar work performance, and high turnover.  

Let’s dive a little deeper into the importance of staff burnout and a few ways to prevent and resolve it with effective leadership. 

What is Staff Burnout, and What’s the Cost? 

If you’ve got either an employee or a group of employees who are disengaged from the work, apathetic, and missing important details, you might be experiencing a common issue: staff burnout. A 2018 Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23% of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes. That means about two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout on the job. Staff burnout can bring even the most solid organization to its knees – in fact, the hard organizational cost of burnout is real.  

Burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job. They typically have 13% lower confidence in their performance and are half as likely to discuss how to approach performance goals with their supervisor. Burnout can trigger a downward spiral in individual and organizational performance – and that’s not good for business growth. 

Dealing with staff burnout through honest and inspiring leadership

Burnout is preventable and, in most cases, fixable. If you address the root cause, you can create an environment that empowers your team to perform their best. As leaders, our influence and direction can have a massively positive effect. In fact, employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their managers are about 70% less likely to experience burnout on a regular basis. 

Staff burnout like matches

Listen to their frustrations

Sometimes, the truth hurts. But it’s worth it to hear the full truth about what’s frustrating staff because it offers excellent insights into what’s going on with your business. Meet them where they are: stressed? Overloaded? Not enough resources? Take the time to find out what they need now, so you can get them out of their rut and back on track quicker. 

Set Clear, Measurable and Achievable Goals

Employees who experience burnout sometimes deal with a lack of clarity in goals or have tasks that don’t come with measurable results. That’s frustrating for everyone involved! Set clear and measurable goals, then help them reach their goals with follow-through as they progress. Click here for more information on how to set achievable goals for both your business and your employees.

Invest in their Success

Many employees become disengaged because they don’t feel that their contribution matters to the big picture. Sit down with your team members and show them how their role fits into the team and how your team fits into the larger enterprise. Also, have a discussion with them at least twice a year about what their own career goals are and how you can help them get the training and experience to advance in the organization and meet those goals. See our video about Leadership Development Plans and our Leadership Development Plan Workbook for more help. 

Set a Great Example 

Leaders that listen, take action, and practice what they preach are the ones who set a great example for others. Dealing with staff burnout sometimes comes down to earnestly evaluating your own process as a leader – the more you are able to positively influence and inspire others around you, the more positive and supportive the environment becomes. 

Inspiring others by setting a great example yourself is easier said than done, but it’s an essential skill worth putting into practice. Here are the fundamentals: 

  1. Remember that people are always watching. This is a big one, and it’s one that I always keep in mind myself. Unless you’re living in a cave, no matter where you are or what you’re doing in business there is always going to be someone observing you. They’re deciding, consciously or subconsciously, if you’re setting an example of behavior that they want to emulate. So, what’s your staff observing from you? Is it the same attitude that you want them to display? Is it even the same attitude you intend to project?
  1. Make sure your words and your actions match. If you’re vocal about a concept or a mission but you’re not backing it up with your own actions, then you have a problematic mismatch and (see #1) people will notice, costing you both credibility and loyalty. 
  1. Share your failures and mistakes. Share how you recovered. Everyone makes mistakes, and often, those are the times where the best lessons are learned. Sharing your failures and mistakes lets others know that it’s okay as long as you learn and recover. Gather stories and keep the focus on what was learned – that way, you’re connecting to the fact that no one is infallible. You can watch more about how to Inspire others here.

Effective leadership takes honesty and an open set of ears that hear the whole team and recognize both their contributions and problems. Dealing with staff burnout isn’t impossible, but it does take a keen sense of observation and quick response so that disengagement or apathy don’t derail your business. Plus, your team will understand exactly how valued they are if you catch employee burnout quick enough, and that can be a powerful moment. 

For more guidance on great leadership techniques to take your business to the next level, head to Evil Genius Leadership Consultants for weekly or bi-weekly coaching packages that are tailored to your own unique needs. We offer a free initial consultation – spend an hour with one of our coaches for a closer look at how Evil Genius can work for you. 

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