What exactly is burnout?
Burnout is a huge problem in the workplace. And leaders are extra vulnerable to burning out, due to the demands, pressures and responsibilities of their role. Burnout is no joke. It’s characterised by:
- serious emotional exhaustion
- lack of motivation
- difficulty concentrating
- health problems
- feeling unfulfilled at work
Not good. Consequently, preventing burnout must be a top priority for any organisation that wants to hang onto top talent and keep creativity, innovation and motivation high.
How can we beat burnout?
Balance is key
First things first: encourage leaders to take time off. Leaders need rest, relaxation and recharging just like everyone else. Make sure your time off policies are crystal clear and that leaders feel comfortable taking vacations, sick days, mental health days, ‘duvet’ days, or whatever they need to avoid going into zombie mode. Leaders often feel pressure to minimise time away from the office, so set the right tone and lead by example. Promote a culture that truly values work-life balance and self-care. Don’t just pay lip service to the idea. Walk the walk yourself. If senior management never takes time off, that sends the message that vacations are a no-no. Managers should actively encourage leaders to take time away, and be sure that adequate cover is available so leaders can completely unplug.
Focus on flexibility
On top of holiday/vacation time, giving leaders flexibility in their schedules and workloads can help them manage stress. Options might include flexible start/end times, the ability to work remotely, job sharing, adjusting responsibilities after stressful deadlines. Even small things like avoiding early morning meetings, allowing hybrid working, or encouraging no-meeting Fridays can make a difference. Figure out what types of flexibility work best for each leader’s situation. Check in regularly to reassess and provide new flexibility options as needs change.
Lighten the load
Unrealistic workloads are a huge stress and can trigger burnout. Consider all the responsibilities you’ve loaded onto leaders and trim any unnecessary or redundant tasks. Having a clear company vision can help everyone to do this. Clearly define roles and expectations, and bring in extra support if needed. During crunch times, reshuffle priorities and deadlines to keep expectations reasonable. Leaders should feel empowered to push back if asked to take on too much. Adjusting workloads shows that you care about employees well-being.
Collaborate and communicate
To understand leaders’ challenges, you need open and frequent communication. Maintain an open door policy so leaders feel comfortable voicing concerns or frustrations. Check in regularly instead of waiting for them to reach out when they’re already burned out. Proactively manage stress by talking early and often. This shows leaders you care about their well-being. It also gives you opportunities to collaborate on solutions before burnout hits.
Invest in leadership development
Leaders need continuous development to expand their skills and handle ever-changing demands. Provide training, mentoring, coaching and other growth opportunities. Host workshops and send leaders to conferences to stay current in their field. Investing in their growth empowers leaders to tackle challenges and stay engaged in their role. Thus preventing boredom and burnout. In this way, you recognise leaders that have evolving needs and are committed to developing talent within your organisation.
Create a culture of self-care
An organisation’s culture around self-care plays a huge role in preventing burnout. Make sure senior management models healthy work-life balance, takes time off, and avoids exhaustion from overwork. Institute policies that focus on well-being and discourage excessive off-hours communications. Remind leaders to take breaks, unplug from work, pursue hobbies, and prioritise their physical and mental health. Small things like offering standing desks, encouraging walking meetings, providing healthy snacks or yoga classes send the message that self-care matters.
Stay aware and offer help
Keep an eye out for any warning signs like lack of engagement, increased cynicism, absenteeism and declining performance. Reach out to support leaders before things escalate into a bigger issue. Recognise that leaders may downplay challenges they’re having for fear of looking weak. Continually evaluating mental health and catching problems early makes a massive difference.
Leaders need to know help is available if they’re struggling with stress-related mental health problems. Provide easy access to confidential counselling services and mental health support. De-stigmatise seeking psychological help by talking about it openly. Share stories of other leaders who have benefited from mental health resources. Investing in these services shows you prioritise employees’ emotional well-being.
Beat burnout together
Preventing burnout requires a team effort across the entire company. By providing more flexibility, reasonable expectations, strong communication, development opportunities, encouragement of self-care, and access to mental health resources, you can create an environment where leaders can thrive without burning out. Taking these preventative measures will lead to more engaged, empowered leadership and greater success for all.
Is your organisation struggling with burnout? Would you like to create a culture where well-being matters and your leaders feel comfortable prioritising their mental health and encouraging others to do so?
We can help! Get in touch for a friendly, no-obligation chat.
And in the meantime, why not download our drastically different to-do list It’s a fantastic FREE tool to help manage your work/life/health balance.