In times of economic strain, organizations often face the delicate balancing act of optimizing their team’s productivity while safeguarding against burnout. While it can be tempting to push employees to their limits in an effort to achieve maximum results, it is crucial to prioritize their well-being and avoid the detrimental effects of burnout.
Below, 20 Forbes Human Resources Council members share tried and true practices to help other leaders leverage and utilize their current team’s talents and abilities without subjecting them to excessive stress and exhaustion. From fostering open communication and work-life balance to encouraging skill development and recognizing achievements, these approaches not only maintain the team’s well-being but also enhance their performance and resilience.
1. Understand Your Team’s Strengths
By understanding your team’s strengths and areas of interest, you navigate them to projects that enable them to reach their fullest potential. With this approach, they are able to prioritize outcomes that they want to accomplish and their well-being. Investing in tech and collaboration tools supports social connections and productivity, making them better prepared for the future. – Jagdish Ghugani, Appfire
2. Take Downtime Seriously
We take downtime seriously because we know it is a crucial part of a high-performing team. We have introduced various policies and programs to make sure employees avoid burnout, including “Heads-Down Days” before holidays so employees can close out their work and truly unplug while on vacation. We have added to our unlimited vacation policy a mandated minimum of 20 days of time out of the office. – Leigh Yanocha, Knopman Marks Financial Training
3. Set Boundaries And Priorities
In today’s hybrid environment, where the lines between work and home are often blurred, it’s critical to set priorities, as well as boundaries. Both must be discussed, contemplated and addressed. It’s also important to emphasize employee mental health and well-being, ensuring employees have easy access to those resources. – Kevin Silva, Voya Financial
4. Manage Workplace Stressors
Be aware of and manage the various workplace stressors that might adversely affect the team. Start with workload balance; for example, how do you clarify and prioritize what is essential, how are you leveraging automation and have you designed for collaboration? Once you’ve done this, encourage feedback on what isn’t working and know what levers you can pull to provide relief and support. – Will Gaines, Super Store Industries
5. Implement A Hybrid Policy
Organizations can craft inclusive policies that embrace a diverse culture by allowing for flexibility while holding employees accountable. Rolling out a remote-friendly, hybrid approach can work well when it comes to utilizing your team without causing burnout. – Gianna Driver, Exabeam
6. Prioritize Key Initiatives
Prioritize key business initiatives first. This will help to keep the company working towards common goals while offering intangible rewards to keep individual and team engagement levels up. – Veronica Oubayan, CarepathRx
7. Support Team Goals
To help set boundaries, employees need to have a clear view of how their professional goals support organizational goals. By staying focused on work that supports team and organizational goals, it’s easier to deprioritize less critical work and reduce the risk of burnout. – Susan Tohyama, Ceridian
8. Serve As An Example
Be an example to your team. Get in the trenches. Ensure your team is learning new skills that can be applied to their resumes. Talk with your team and collaborate on creative ideas. Give the team a safe place to vent. – Patricia Sharkey, Sharkey HR Consulting, LLC
9. Promote Work-Life Balance
The best way to ease burnout is to prioritize tasks, encourage open communication and promote work-life balance. Focus on high-impact projects, delegate responsibilities and avoid micromanagement while encouraging regular check-ins to offer support. Finally, recognize achievements, provide flexible work arrangements and ensure employees take breaks often to maintain motivation and productivity. – Loren Rosario-Maldonado, Cultura, Inc.
10. Compensate Properly
If you wish to keep your headcount intact, you will have to stretch your team to do that “extra work.” The best way is to compensate. You would actually pay one-tenth of what you would otherwise pay to a new hire. Also, ensure the team gets adequate rest and remains motivated enough by encouraging flexi-time and allowing them uninterrupted weekends to rest and recoup. Upskilling is also a win-win option. – Subhash Chandar, Laminaar Aviation Infotech
11. Leverage Performance Enablement
Burnout can happen at any time, whether in a tight economy or a booming one. Human resources and business leaders can best utilize their teams by leveraging performance enablement. This model provides employees with the control, autonomy and empowerment they need to excel through things like continuous, real-time feedback, career development and regular one-on-one employee-manager conversations. – Jamie Aitken, Betterworks
12. Use Flat Leadership
The best way to approach keeping an overtasked team is by flat leadership. Lead the work and be in the work. When you roll up your sleeves shoulder to shoulder on large and mundane tasks, you tend to galvanize a team and drive better results while ensuring everyone has balance. It’s not easy to do, but flattening the roles is a great muscle to flex. – Cat Colella-Graham
13. Outsource Non-Critical Tasks
Prioritize critical tasks and outsource non-critical ones. Prioritization ensures the team focuses on the most important projects while outsourcing eases workload and guarantees timely completion of crucial tasks. Recruitment can easily be outsourced or augmented with outside firms as well as payroll and benefits coordination. – William Stonehouse, Crawford Thomas Recruiting
14. Encourage Your Team To Succeed
Discuss your goals with your leadership and your team so everyone is on the same page with priorities and timelines. Keep open communication and encourage your team to succeed but to also come to you with concerns. Encourage them to take time off when feasible and see if you can offer flexible schedules. Also, encourage them to take training opportunities to advance their career. – Erin ImHof, CertiK
15. Fuel Development And Engagement
Stretch opportunities! Not only does it prevent overleveraging “go-to’s” but also fuels development and engagement! – Britton Bloch, Navy Federal
16. Improve Employee Retention
Sometimes, a tight economy can reduce recruiting budgets and result in understaffing. Teams need to maintain work-life balance so encourage employees to use PTO and speak up about excessive workload. Be creative about meeting hiring needs with the available budget. That will improve employee retention, which benefits employers since the cost of rehiring a valued team member can be significant. – Niki Jorgensen, Insperity
17. Give Work To Skilled Employees
Define critical work streams and match them with, first, employees’ skills and strengths, and next with skilled employees who enjoy doing that work. By offering work that matters to employees who value the work and are good at it, stress is checked and burnout is low. This no-cost approach builds employee engagement and contributes toward a human-centric culture-two essential elements for limiting burnout. – Laci Loew, XpertHR (a division of LexisNexis)
18. Clearly Communicate Deadlines
Focus on clear communication of priorities and deadlines, delegate tasks based on strengths and interests and encourage work-life balance. Additionally, provide opportunities for learning and growth to keep employees engaged and motivated. Finally, ensure that the workload is reasonable, and regularly check in with team members to address any concerns or issues. – Cally Stanphill, PainTEQ LLC
19. Identify Tasks To Be Automated
Work with your team to locate the priorities for your team to focus on. Have them help identify the things that could be outsourced or automated and the processes that can be streamlined. Do regular team check-ins to monitor their well-being and any signs of overload. Allow flexibility so they can balance the company’s needs with their personal needs. Recognize and reward their efforts. – Amy Casciotti, TechSmith Corporation
20. Be Transparent
We ask more from our employees when the economy is tighter; the best way to avoid burnout is to be transparent. Share the business case, listen to their feedback, market to them how you listen to them through action and make sure they feel you value what their role provides to the business. – Jessica Wallen, Marten Law
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Original Article here.