How to help your team beat burnout

If you missed our most recent Office Hours, check out the recap below or watch the video here.

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Every 1st and 3rd Wednesday, our Head of Community Anna Dearmon Kornick hosts a LIVE deep dive into a different time management topic. Then, she opens up the floor for your questions and coaching.

This week we learned how to identify the signs of burnout and used a tailored approach to solving the burnout crisis for your team.

Burnout is expensive, contributing to between $125 and $190 BILLION a year in U.S. healthcare spending. It leads to health issues like insomnia, depression, heart disease and more. 

Burnout affects the quality of our work, impacts turnover and negatively impacts relationships. 

How big is the burnout problem? Pretty big.

  • 77% of people surveyed in a recent Deloitte study admitted to experiencing burnout in their current job. 
  • 60% of tech workers have felt burned out
  • 84% of millennials report burnout

With burnout having such far-reaching effects, knowing how to spot the signs is more important than ever. 

Identify the Signs of Burnout

Burnout is characterized by three dimensions:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

Although the external signs of burnout will differ from person to person, burnout looks like 

  • Having less energy
  • Reduced connection
  • Lower effectiveness

Listen to Your Team

Listening to your team is so critical because there’s not a one-size-fits-all magic bullet for burnout. 

Research published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review found that workers are most likely to burn out when there’s a mismatch in one of six key areas: 

  1. Workload
  2. Reward
  3. Fairness
  4. Control
  5. Community
  6. Values

For a deeper dive into each of these six areas, download our Burnout Prevention Kit.

Tailor Your Approach

Using a tailored approach is essential because solving the wrong problem can only make the problem worse. 

Here are a few ideas for tackling each of the six main causes of burnout, but you’ll find even more inside the Burnout Prevention Kit:

  1. Workload - Ensure your team has enough Focus Time by reviewing Team Analytics in Clockwise.
  2. Reward - Recognize your team’s effort and praise their achievements. Give kudos in team meetings and express gratitude for a job well done.
  3. Fairness - Create more transparency around who gets recognized, and incorporate different perspectives from across the organization.
  4. Control - Allow employees to work flexible hours. Clockwise makes it easy to schedule across different availability and time zones when your team sets meeting hours and working hours. 
  5. Community - Create water cooler style conversations using an app like Donut.
  6. Values - Reiterate the company values and promote causes that are meaningful to the company.

Burnout happens. But when you know how to spot the signs, listen to your team to uncover the root cause, and tailor your approach, you’re on your way to helping your team beat burnout.

Q&A

How can you support your team through reward-based burnout when you have no control over pay, promotion or bonuses?

Identify opportunities to give recognition to team members beyond pay, promotion or bonuses. Sometimes there are other methods of recognition that could be used besides compensation that can be tailored based on the individual. 

Examples could include:

  • Upgrading their job title
  • Improving their working environment with new equipment or furniture
  • Providing additional time off
  • Allowing more flexible hours
  • Recognizing the individual in a team setting
  • Creating a shout out or kudos agenda item in a weekly meeting
  • Nominating them for external awards like 40 Under 40 or industry-specific awards

How can I help team members who are feeling burned out because so much of their time is spent supporting team projects instead of their personal projects? 

When a team member feels that they don’t have control of their time because it’s been stretched thin due to collaborative projects, burnout can set in. Here are some recommendations you can provide to the burned out team member:

1. Inventory your existing projects. Encourage team members to do an inventory of all of their current projects. Sometimes when projects are spread across digital workspaces, it can be difficult to get a complete visual of everything on our plate. Creating a project inventory can be as simple as a handwritten list on a notepad or a dry erase board. This inventory creates more visibility and clarity around current obligations and time commitments. 

Understand where your time is going. Open up your calendar and do a visual sweep of the past week or two. As you review your calendar, pay attention to which projects are taking most of your time in the form of meetings and time blocks. You just might find that you’re spending more time than you realized on your personal projects. Scanning your 1:1 Dashboard and Team Analytics in Clockwise can also give a great bird’s eye view of where your time is going.

2. Analyze time spent on projects v. your project responsibilities. Now that you have visibility of where you time has been going, ask yourself  the following questions:

  • How much time should I be spending on each of these projects?
  • Based on my role within each project, am I spending an appropriate amount of time, or am I devoting too much time to a project in which I am playing a minor role?
  • Am I being reactive with my time, or am I proactively planning when I’ll work on each project?

When we’re working on a collaborative project, it can be very easy to unintentionally slip into reactive mode. A project that we’re meant to play a contributing role is suddenly taking up all of our time. This is Parkinson’s Law in action.

Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time allotted. 

When you don’t set boundaries, or proactively use time blocking to set aside time for your work on specific projects, your collaborative projects begin to creep into all of your existing open space. This can make it feel like all of your time is going to team projects. 

The solution? Use time blocking in conjunction with your Clockwise Focus Time to proactively allocate your time to each of your projects. 

Start each week by creating time blocks in your calendar for your high-priority projects so you’ve got a visual reminder of how you will spend your time. 

Sometimes my personal day-to-day responsibilities stress me out more than my work responsibilities. How can we apply anti-burnout practices to our personal lives?

We’ve got so many responsibilities in our roles as professionals, but we all have personal lives, too. If you find your personal responsibilities are causing stress, think about what’s going right when it comes to managing your work responsibilities. Are your work projects clearly defined and stored in a project management system, like Asana, with roles, responsibilities and deadlines captured? 

I would encourage you to apply what’s working in your professional life to your personal life. 

One of the reasons why we tend to feel so stressed is because we’re trying to remember everything, or keep everything in our heads. David Allen, the creator of the Getting Things Done productivity method said, “Our minds are for having ideas, not holding them.”

Any opportunity you have to get things out of your head and onto paper or into a project management system will relieve that pressure to keep everything in your head. 

Creating checklists - even for your everyday routines - can also help relieve that pressure to remember everything.

How can we navigate a situation in which a people leader may not realize that they promote a culture of burnout? 

Unfortunately this is all too common in organizations. Chances are you’re not the only person who has recognized this, and it’s highly likely that others on your team feel the same way. 

The way to approach this situation is going to vary based on your position within the company. If you’re a manager, have a dialogue with your team members and lead by example. Show up as a culture leader to your team and take care of them. Then, look upward. What conversation can you have with your supervisor about your concerns? Providing specific examples of how this leadership style is affecting your team, can be helpful in the short term. 

Sometimes this leader has to have an epiphany on their own, and that’s not something that can always be orchestrated. Often they have to come to terms with high turnover and losing valuable team members to recognize there’s a problem and that they are the problem.

Regardless, be an example of the type of culture you’d like to see, support your team, and begin the conversation with your supervisor. By offering solutions you can begin to make a change. A small turn in the right direction can lead to the tipping point that can make all the difference.

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