Nonprofit employers have been dealing with employee burnout for some time now but knowing what factors to focus on can go a long way in prevention. It’s a crisis that can trigger a downward spiral in both the individual’s performance as well as the organizations’ and can end up costing thousands of wasted dollars.
Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress and one that has long been lacking official recognition even though it has nearly become an epidemic—until now. The World Health Organization (WHO), recently identified workplace burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” that may require medical attention. They state, that burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed and characterize by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.
Employees experiencing burnout at work are often physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted from the job. They are more likely to take frequent sick days, exude more negativity, reduce team moral and worse, start looking elsewhere for employment opportunities. They become fixated on problems rather than growth opportunities or development. Now, more than ever before, we’re doing more with less, working longer hours, taking fewer breaks and less vacation days. Burnout is a serious workplace concern and is detrimental to the health of everyone involved—managers, co-workers, loved ones and friends.
There are often many factors that cause job fatigue but managers play an important role in helping to avoid this occupational phenomenon. Employees who trust their managers are more likely to experience meaningful work. Below are some key strategies for building that relationship and reducing employee burnout:
1. Check-in daily – we’re not talking about a daily 30-minute meeting but a simple “Good Morning”, “How was the school play last night” or “Any plans for the weekend”. These brief interactions can make a huge impact on someone who may be struggling.
2. Listen actively – being a good listener when an employee comes to you with an issue is a critical step in earning their trust and developing a solid bond.
3. Make time for team-building – creating a team that is unified provides another line of emotional support for an employee who is struggling. Co-workers often understand better than anyone else the struggle of being burnt out.
4. Encourage break time – everyone needs to take a break to stay connected and focused so ensure your employees are taking the time to recharge.
5. Make work purposeful – being connected to your mission isn’t enough so give your employees more reasons for making their job feel important.
6. Always say please and thank you – two very simple terms that are extremely underused in the workplace. Showing appreciation and respect can go a long way.
7. Put the right people in the right place – make sure your employees have the opportunity to do what they do best so you get the best of what they have to offer and they feel fulfilled.
If you don’t address the causes of employee burnout in your nonprofit, you’re missing the opportunity to create a workplace environment that empowers employees to feel and perform their best. Employee burnout is no longer just an HR issue, it’s a public health issue and one that can be managed before it even hits. Develop healthy workplace habits that begin with managers who foster positive experiences and ensure you have policies in place that help recognize the triggers before they get out of control.