3 Strategies for Avoiding Employee Burnout

Opinions expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.

Long before the pandemic, employee burnout was a growing problem. A research study by Deloitte conducted just before 2020 found that 42% of American workers quit their jobs due to burnout. But after these past two years, it has reached unprecedented heights. According to a recent Harvard Business Review poll, “more than half of all American workers are burned out,” suggesting it was a contributing factor to the Great Resignation.

How can we as entrepreneurs, brokers and managers prevent this?

1. Schedule regular feel-good times

It may seem strange, but I’ve found that many employees (especially in sales) just don’t make the time. That’s why I ask my agents about their daily routine during one-to-one conversations or in meetings. When I hear that someone didn’t take breaks or days, I immediately go into a deeper conversation to find out why. If an employee feels overwhelmed or stressed, I try to find out what is causing it. I also make it clear that I not only agree with using feel-good time, I encourage it — even insisting that each person take a designated amount of time off each week.

The fact is that in sales, you have to react quickly to enquiries, difficulties, questions and so on. It’s part of the job. However, if you remain in a state of alert 24 hours a day, it will eventually catch up with you. The law of diminishing returns will come into play: the more effort you put in beyond a certain point, the fewer positive results you’ll get.

Everyone needs time outside of work to focus on personal relationships, hobbies, and other non-work related activities. Our well-being depends on relaxation to stay fresh – to use this time in a relaxing and constructive way. By scheduling regular check-ins with your team, you can catch burnout symptoms before they become a serious problem.

Related: Telecommuting Burnout and Zoom Fatigue: A lot more complicated than it seems

2. Create a positive environment and reward good work

There are several ways to recognize and reward achievements – the most obvious being providing a bonus or other financial reward – but one of my personal favorites is to host a formal awards dinner at least once a year where I recognize high achievers and theirs Milestones celebrate achievements. These are great bonding experiences for a team and help show employees that hard work is recognized and appreciated.

Creating frequent casual social gatherings to talk about the events of the day or week is also a great way to reduce isolation, increase camaraderie, and share perspectives. Opportunities to bond with the team and celebrate achievements are important aspects of rewarding good work, but before we get to that point, we need to be aware of our broader responsibility for creating a positive work environment where employees feel comfortable being themselves be. This culture should include employees feeling safe expressing thoughts and asking questions without fear of retaliation or ridicule. They must also believe that they are working toward a common goal within a collaborative space. There should be a sense of mutual respect and everyone should feel that contributions are valued and that everyone is contributing.

Managers and business owners are ultimately responsible for creating and maintaining such an environment. I’ve found that one of the surest ways to lose high achievers, for example, is to let go of a bully on a team. Managing the resulting toxic environment means spending time, energy and resources on issues unrelated to true goals, and staff/agents will soon be looking for a more positive atmosphere.

We all want to be appreciated for our efforts. Recognizing good work, celebrating achievements, and creating a positive environment reassure employees that you are preparing them for career growth.

Related: To prevent burnout in the workplace, ask yourself these 3 questions

3. Develop and mentor employees

Work that is too steeped in the sameness and mundane tasks inevitably leads to boredom and dissatisfaction—an environment in which work becomes an emotional drain. I’ve found this to be especially true in sales roles where the ambition to grow professionally and financially is a huge motivator.

It’s important that we, as managers and business owners, take the time to develop our people – helping them learn new skills and providing opportunities for expansion (including leading projects) – enabling them to thrive both professionally and personally to develop personally.

To on Gallup’s 10th Employee Engagement Meta-Analysis – Released in 2020 and for which more than 82,000 teams in 230 organizations were studied – Employees with a high level of engagement produce significantly more, treat customers better (and thus win new customers) and are more likely to stay with a company

While monetary incentives are always present and appreciated to reward achievement, they can only go so far as to keep people happy and productive. Those who are truly engaged are healthier, happier, more effective, and experience far less burnout.

How often do you review company goals with your team? Do you have regular check ins to see how people are progressing? Do you actively engage with them from a professional development perspective? If not, now is the time to start.

Related: Do you want to ensure a positive work environment? Follow these important tips

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