Learn how to identify and protect employees from professional burnout.

Living and working in today's fast-paced world is exhausting. Communicating on so many diverse platforms, now accessible to anyone and everyone at all times, more and more of us are feeling burned out from the experience.

A healthy mind free from stress contributes to a better quality of life and a more productive time at work. We all aspire towards this. However, life is not predictable, and it can take just one unexpected event to throw everything out of alignment, sometimes triggering a burnout. So how can we protect each other and ourselves from an exhausting working pattern that we can feel is too demanding. The answer is multi-faceted, with the roots planted firmly within teamwork and good management.

Typically, burnout in employees can present itself in subtle but discernible ways. Productivity may drop, reactive behaviour can become prevalent, communication deteriorates and attention span can become shorter; As a consequence of all these effects, negative attitudes can emerge which dominate the culture of our working community. It is important that we act quickly to address burnout and the reasons for its emergence, taking steps where possible to ameliorate it.

Take a disciplined but empathetic approach to rectify the situation. The average length of time any one employee works in a single establishment is 4.6 years. Get to know your individual employees better and help them to achieve a personal development plan for work which will enable them to establish goals for their career progression and enable them to move on when the time is right for them. Taking a personal interest in your employees in this way makes them feel more valued and instills a sense of belonging within your workforce. When communication is open, it's much easier to engender a positive attitude towards work among your employees and reduce the opportunity for a cynical employee to undermine morale within the workplace. If you do encounter a dissatisfied worker have a conversation with them. Their issue may be workplace related or possibly have its origin in something personal or domestic. If the issue is workplace related, help them weigh up their best options for either addressing the issues or achieving a positive exit strategy. It's important that you try to preserve a satisfied and productive team. If an employee does decide to leave, reflect on what changes can be made in the future to improve your in-house culture. Some of the most common triggers for burnout lie simply in workers not feeling valued, recognised or mentored.

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Ensure you have collective quarterly developmental plans in place to allow your team to work towards targets with incentives flagged at each goal or milestone. Allow the team to feel as much a part of the business as the CEO or a Director. Every cog in the machine can work together to allow the engine to function efficiently. If you run a website or a blog, ensure you have a bio and an image on the 'about' page to allow customers to get a sense of the team behind your brand. Shout out individual and collective achievements to recognise initiative on the companies social media channel and reply promptly with comprehensive feedback to emails. If an employee is voicing frustration over a lack of access to the appropriate software, tools or office space, work hard to acknowledge those concerns. No one likes to feel like that they are shouting into an abyss when all they want to do is get the job done and notify a manager of an issue.

The most successful ways to restore motivation and engagement with your employee is to approach problematic issues with sensitivity. Offer training, encourage open conversations about burn out and be open to their suggestions in any social or behavioural changes the company can adopt to promote their sense of belonging and achievement. A small initiative like an office ping pong tournament can allow employees to feel part of the team and be recognised as people, not just robotic workers required to complete tasks. Team building exercises which take workers away from their desk and let their personality to be embraced and enjoyed will prove hugely productive when it comes to connecting with your team. Although the team's overall sense of wellbeing is critical, it is essential not to lose all focus on their business itself; There is an important job to be done. Although supporting employees is important, also monitor the employee performance and if it is not satisfactory, make it clear that change is a necessity and not an option.

Method Design discusses avoiding burn out.

"As a business, we operate a 'flexible time' policy, meaning as long we people get the jobs done, they can go and pick the kids up from school, or clear their head and go for a walk. I try to spend ten mins around mid-day for some mindfulness meditation, to clear my mind, and help me to focus on what work is essential for the afternoon."

James, Creative Director

"Knowing that James is always there to talk to over the phone or via our internal communication tool Slack helps. Knowing that I can talk a job over or get support if I'm struggling means a lot. He knows the pressures of working remotely. I know I can take a little time every now and again if I need to clear my head. And, of course, I always know that there is a desk for me in the office if I need to work around people after working alone."

Paul, Digital Marketing Manager

"James and Laura are passionate about what they do and their love for design is infectious. As our team leaders, their ambition is inspiring and they embrace all of us to maintain the team spirit, supporting us to achieve our shared goals. Both of them take a professional and personal interest in us as individuals and we all feel valued. Communication is fluid and you are never pressured to work to unachievable deadlines. Having good management is so key to feeling invested in your productivity."

Milly, Content Generator

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