- Burning out costs your business money, whether it is you or an employee experiencing it.
- Identify the signs of an impending burnout and always plan for downtimes.
- Try to improve everyone's emotional intelligence because that helps tremendously in the long run.
It is no secret that more and more people are burning out at work.
And furthermore, it's also not a secret that stress costs business big money.
According to a Beyond Blue calculation, mental health conditions cost Australian workplaces a jaw dropping $10.9 billion a year.
It is estimated that Australian businesses will receive an average return of $2.30 for every $1 they invest in mental health initiatives, be it a deep dive into emotional intelligence, coaching programmes or behavioural profiling.
Evidence is showing us that the pace of the 21st century and drive for higher work output will only amplify, putting our age-old human nervous system under even more strain, inducing stress and ultimately making burnout more prevalent.
How do you ensure that your winning team keeps on winning and that your star performers keep on delivering the goods, without running the risk of burnout?
Within the workplace, we may not be seen as seasoned or elite pro athletes but our time spent in the office, on the hop, in the front line is just about as long as an endurance athlete’s schedule. Yet athletes do a few things differently to maintain their body’s performance and avoid injuries. Perhaps we could adapt our approach at work without sustaining burnout as an occupational injury?
Here are my top 4 hacks on how to keep yourself and your team to consistently perform (and to stop losing money!). I have included real-life cases as an example for each point, with their real names taken out.
1. Know the signs of a burnout
You should be wary of these signs in your team:
- Verbalising continued lack of sleep and not having enough hours in the day
- Unusual passive aggressive behaviour creeping in at work
- Taking on more responsibility and workload when already maxed out
- Fixing problems by themselves instead of reaching out
- High reliance on alcohol to unwind after work
- Seemingly over the top reactions or abnormal outbursts
- Copious amounts of coffee to get going and stay going
- Watercooler talk of being adrenally fatigued
M had just immigrated to a foreign country. He was toying with many business ideas but was stuck on which one to pursue. He found various scenarios and opportunities confusing and distracting. After being pulled in various directions and doing the entrepreneurial hustle, it sent him into “spinning many plates mode” and right into the wall of burnout, which of course left him with little to no energy for his eventual new business venture. This could have been remedied by focusing on clear outcomes from the start.
2. Pace, pace, lead - know when to match and when to set the rhythm
A pro athlete knows when to rest or train.They see it as a vital component of their performance. They also know that rhythm is the key to on-court or field success. An athlete who has lost rhythm finds even the slow days a grind.
I've had the priviledge to work with a few pro athletes and they have one huge belief in common: great quality rest is vital for success. Rest isn’t seen as something that weak people do, it is what intelligent people make a MUST. As a leader of a team, knowing when to drive them and when to rest and recover is vital for success and to mitigate chances of burnout.
S is a corporate hotel manager. He runs a city centre hotel with his hands full managing the team, entertaining key clients, organising events and functions. Not only did he demand high standards from his teams, he demanded perfection from himself. Perfection and burnout always go hand in hand, and soon enough it proved too much to handle. In this scenario, he needs to forgo perfection and focus on measurable outcomes instead.
3. Plan for maintenance times
Don’t expect your body and mind to keep on delivering the goods, when you don’t give it the goods in the first place.
A seasoned athlete knows the race is won both in the build-up and the recovery stages. If you want to avoid workplace burnout, both these elements pre and post events are vital - yet often ignored.
When someone is demanding more and more from their brain without coming up for air, they could be trapped in the endorphin hit of work that they won’t even feel their physical pain until it is too late.
Endorphins are usually produced after a big work out in order to mask pain. It is because of endorphins that we have an enormous capacity for physical endurance such as working on huge projects that extends until early mornings.
Is your addiction to work innocent or are the side effects causing unknown harm?
D, who runs an electrical contractor business, feels a burning need to deliver excellent customer satisfaction. This case study is a prime example of overpromising and, sadly, under delivering which leads to a burnout. He had an overwhelmingly high levels of control over every possible scenario, and was essentially, micromanaging. I focused on laying out solid healthy boundaries and taught him when saying no can actually help the business.
4. Clever is calm
IQ and EQ are intricately linked, meaning that IQ significantly drops when there is no EQ in any given situation. Emotional intelligence is at the heart of burnout. Instead of letting emotions run wild, you can make conscious choices of your emotions.
Our bodies have a chemical stress response that hasn’t yet kept up with evolution. Bio-chemically speaking, our bodies are 150,000 years behind in how we react to stress. EQ helps us to selectively respond to stress, instead of letting the emotional domino effect cascade throughout our systems.
Hence why it is vital to understand our reactions under pressure, to find ways of resourcefully relieving such stresses and tension and finally get to the cause of these pressures and devise alternate strategies.
Do you know the hot buttons of your star performers?
Do you know your own hot button triggers?
A manages a truck stop service station. He tended to avoid confrontation and would pick up the slack for others. I worked on having important "uncomfortable" conversations on staff performance. Being calm in these scenarios helped the client to be clever instead of avoiding saying what needed to be said.
Disclaimer: All names have been altered to protect past client identities as they are true case study examples.