“Burnout—the mental and physical exhaustion you experience when the demands of your work consistently exceed the amount of energy you have available— has been called the epidemic of the modern workplace.” — Harvard Business Review*
There’s no denying, the modern business world and all of its technological trappings brings with it incredible conveniences. Cloud-based document storage systems, laptops, smart phones and email means, when we need to, we can take our work with us wherever we go …but the problem is, a lot of us do this even when we don’t actually need to!
For CEOs, I think it can be challenging at times to ‘step away from the technology’—after all, when you’re in charge, you have the ultimate responsibility for your team, your clients and often shareholders—we just can’t afford to drop the ball.
However, we also have a responsibility to our teams to set a cultural tone within our organisations where overworking isn’t the ‘norm’ and stress and busyness isn’t linked to job worth.
There will always be peaks in troughs in any organisation that require staff to step up and put in the hard yards to see a major project to completion or to get a new product launched. But the peaks must eventually be followed by troughs otherwise you run the risk of staff burning out.
With the rise of mental health issues in the workplace, I think it’s important for both employees and employers to keep these issues top of mind, and for management to reinforce positive behaviours that promote balance. This could be things like…
- Making sure staff feel like they can and should take their allocation of annual leave
- Encouraging staff to take breaks from technology
- Ensuring management doesn’t spending too much time after hours emailing staff
- Creating opportunities for exercise or socialisation during down time
- Rewarding team members at the completion of major projects and encouraging them to take leave and recharge
- Having a plan in place to ignite staff motivation levels after a big project comes to an end
- Asking team members who seem exhausted or stressed if they are okay—the RUOK website has a great toolkit for supporting staff and starting conversations in the workplace.
These are just a few things we’ll be looking to implement at PaySmart in the future—I’d love to hear if you’ve used other successful strategies within your teams to help avoid burnout.