Dewing CEO of Cloudfm and No1. best-selling business author and podcaster
It has been a crazy couple of years for all of us, no one would have imagined we’d go through a pandemic. National lockdowns disrupted our work patterns, social relationships, and daily activities which exacerbated and onset anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues for many. Even though it is more common and there is increased awareness, many employees who are experiencing stress, fatigue and mental health challenges are reluctant to speak out – with more than half of employees still afraid to discuss their mental health with their boss.
Work-related stress is a big issue with a recent report from Indeed showing that 52% of all workers are experiencing burnout. But if your employees aren’t going to tell you what’s really going on, how can you help them? Many employers fail to spot the problems early on and aren’t quick enough to take action, this risks employees’ well-being, and performance and can even result in them leaving. Here are four ways you can prevent employees from burning out before it’s too late:
- Create a good environment
First things first, ensure your employees are only doing what they love – doing what you don’t love is called stress and doing what you love is called passion. This creates the foundation of a healthy work environment.
Then there’s emotional intelligence. With 42% of people believing their work environment is unhealthy and that their managers do not care about their well-being it’s, therefore, paramount you hire people who demonstrate empathy to create a supportive workplace. This will allow staff to be open and honest so you can support them best. It’s important to challenge the old-fashioned view of “leaving your problems at the doorstep” by normalising conversations around mental health in the workplace and help staff tackle these issues head-on by offering mental health training programmes. We personally have implemented various programmes and ensure we send monthly company-wide reminders that there are 24-hour mental care lines to call for help when it feels like it’s getting too much.
Also, prevention is better than cure. It’s important to encourage your employees to regularly examine their wellbeing. At Cloudfm each month we focus on what I like to call the five strands of resilience – mental, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual states. Employees write down how they are going to maintain those five things and share them with their colleagues.
2. Build meaningful connections
It takes a lengthy interview process to find the right candidates for your business to establish they believe in the company’s values and purpose. Don’t stop there though, you must get to know more about them beyond the skills they can bring to their role, work shouldn’t all be transactional. You need to understand them like your family – know their work challenges, as well as personal and life challenges and genuinely care about them and their interests. What are their kids’ names? How many pets do they have? What are their passions and hobbies? It may seem insignificant but it’s important.
Also, have some fun. Plan team activities to help unwind and socialise, it can be as simple as just going down to the pub. This can lead to a friendlier atmosphere in the workplace, which is crucial for maintaining a positive culture and productive team. It’s all about creating a space for staff to feel unjudged and comfortable to ensure people have the freedom and safety to speak to anybody about anything at any time.
3. Lead by example & don’t restrict
It’s good to encourage healthy work habits to prevent burnout. It allows employees to be more productive with their tasks rather than leaving them feeling overwhelmed. But people don’t care about what you say but what you do so lead by example from management down. Implement regular breaks, encourage them to leave their desks or go on walks during the day and do so yourself as well. But don’t be prescriptive. Offer them flexibility so they have the freedom to influence their own destiny and run their lives the way they want to – the only thing you need to agree on is outcomes.
Remember there’s no such thing as work-life balance there’s only life. The reality is we work most of our lives and therefore removing constraints gives people a choice and puts them in control. Providing the freedom to switch off from work as and when they need to can boost productivity. In particular, encouraging regular reflection time can be a gamechanger as sometimes slowing down helps you go faster. As Henry Ford said, “thinking is really hard to do, which Is why so few choose to do it.” Therefore, enabling your staff to clear their minds to allow thinking time promotes problem-solving and innovation which at the end of the day benefits you as a company.
4. Develop them and make them feel secure
A common reason for high employee turnover is stress, which means they are being asked to do things they don’t love. There are several reasons which may contribute to why employees aren’t enjoying their job and it’s important you find out why to resolve these issues – whether that’s being set unrealistic goals, not being given enough clarity or not receiving adequate support to complete their tasks. Agreeing on clear reasonable expectations and offering training & development sessions can help employees improve their performance as well as manage their workload, and time more efficiently. This can increase efficiency and reduce stress which helps mitigate the risk of burnout.
Job insecurity is linked with job satisfaction, work engagement, and wellbeing. Those who feel like their job is on the line may become introverted, find it harder to focus and become increasingly stressed resulting in burnout. Providing a sense of security plays a really important role in managing employee retention as it can reduce their worries. Provide as much certainty as possible, be transparent and open with staff about the company, its challenges and its aspirations so they are in the know and don’t jump to conclusions.
Even the smallest of changes can help prevent burnout. It’s important that employers spot the signs early on so they can address them before it’s too late and to do so you need to properly know your staff. When you give staff the opportunity to shut down completely from work, they will return energised and motivated able to be the best version of themselves.
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