Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Burnout is bad for both employees and organizations. If you’re getting the sense that your staff is feeling burned out, consider these strategies to help improve engagement, retention, and overall happiness.
Q: With employee burnout on the rise and a primary cause for turnover, what new strategies should organizations and managers be willing to try to retain their talent?
A: You are so right. Burnout is a significant issue in associations today, and you are smart to want to do something to head it off.
Many employees are feeling isolated and lonely and are dealing with lots of negative emotions. These feelings have the potential to lead to burnout which can, in turn, lead to resignations.
Since associations work extremely hard to attract, hire, and keep valued employees, let’s look at some burnout-related feelings your staff may have and strategies that might make a difference.
Employees may feel as if they have little down time during the workday. Whether they are in the office or working from home, on some days, they may just go from one meeting to another with no time for a break.
To mitigate this, instead of hourlong meetings, start scheduling 40- or 45-minute meetings and make it a practice to stick to the shorter time. Also encourage people to take a quick walk or stretch halfway through the meeting to keep a sharp focus.
Burnout can also be the result of staff feeling that they have no time to think or process thoughts or information throughout a day.
To help with this, encourage employees to schedule “focus time”—time blocks on their calendars when the have permission to think and focus. They may need to focus on a current project and the role they are playing. Tell staff it’s OK to also use their focus time on personal issues. If they solve an issue at home, they will be better able to get back to their professional challenges.
If you get a sense that staff are feeling isolated and lonely, build in time during meetings to have conversations about nonwork things that are on their minds. This may include family challenges, kids’ achievements, dreams, travel plans, and much more. If you do this, I promise you will see results when it comes to employee engagement and happiness.
Above all, treat your employees as human beings. If you help them connect to their work and their coworkers, you should be able to retain them at least a little bit longer.