During the last year, it has become more apparent than ever that engaged, productive employees have kept the nation’s small and medium-sized businesses running. Business was reinvented by resourceful collaborators almost overnight. But how do you keep employees producing, creating, innovating without burning them out?
Let them breathe.
Here are seven tips to avoid employee burnout and increase engagement in the upcoming year.
1. Put tomorrow on the agenda. If you’re still drowning in the madness of today – reactionary instead of strategic – you need to step back and slow down. By now, your organization should have gotten past the shock and moved to a place where everything isn’t now now now. Ask yourself these questions:
a. What are our top revenue opportunities?
b. How have we adapted to digital and remote solutions to reach customers?
c. What new market segment has emerged because of the pandemic, and how are we working to reach those customers?
d. Are our digital solutions sustainable for post-pandemic days?
2. Give employees the resources they need to get the job done. The “wearer of many hats” became the norm this past year, and that works for emergency situations. But this emergency situation has been going on for 10 months, and it might very well continue another year. Your top talent might be ready to walk out the door. So, take a “hat” audit. Have everyone in your team/department/organization:
a. List their main responsibilities at work (strategic responsibilities).
b. List collateral duties (all duties that fell into their laps due to layoffs, budget cuts etc.)
c. Have them put a time on these “hats”. How much time to these “hats” take out of your business day?
d. Rank the hats’ priority.
Is your top talent spending an extraordinary amount of time on low-priority issues? What digital solutions, outsourcing solutions, temp-hiring solutions can you come up with to streamline duties and free-up time to move forward? Small tasks are quicksand for small businesses.
3. Connect with remote workers … Safely. This past year, many people have been stuck at home, drowning in work with no real outlet. Don’t underestimate the power of the water cooler and coffee breaks. Create spaces that remote workers can meet up person-to-person: lunchtime power walks in the park or an outdoor picnic time (with everyone bringing their own lunch). It’s not ideal, but it helps. And the person-to-person interaction can be incredibly powerful for your employees.
4. Get informed. There are many resources for small businesses to help get through this pandemic. Staying up-to-date on government programs, subsidies, and loans can give your organization the boost it needs to breathe.
5. Make meetings matter. We say this a lot. We’ll say it again. Make meetings matter.
6. Say thank you. Building a culture of gratitude begins with you. Don’t assume your collaborators know how much you value their work and contributions. Express this loud and clear and often.
7. Communicate. With everything up in the air, lack of communication will kill engagement. This means communicating everything from structural changes to job description changes to work schedule changes to “I-just-don’t-know-what’s-next.” This cannot be stressed enough. Many organizations fall flat here.
This blog only addresses burnout related to work. Consider, too, the change in your collaborators’ home responsibilities – everything from online school to caregiving for an older adult.
Taking care of your collaborators by giving them purpose and space at work will be key in the upcoming months. Don’t scare your top talent away.