How to Stop Your Best People Burning Out


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Protecting the longevity of your most talented employees is an important part of people management, but how do you achieve it?

Article 3 Minutes
How to Stop your Best People Burning Out

A team is often founded on the skills and successes of its best employees. This means it's often these standout professionals who are involved in the big projects.

However, constantly leaning on a small number of people to deliver the most high-quality work can put them at risk of burning out. If this is allowed to happen, you may find that you and their team start to suffer, as there is a sudden shortfall in expertise and direction.

So, how do you stop your best people burning out in the first place?

Encourage balance

To prevent your staff from burning out, you need to strongly encourage good working practices. This means taking a lunch break and regular breaks throughout the day, as well as ensuring people are going home on time. It may sound counterintuitive to want people to spend less time in the office, after all, they're there to make money for the company, but overworking is one of the main causes of burnout.

If working way past 5pm, coming in before 9am and skipping breaks becomes the norm for your business, it's what everyone will think is expected of them. Not only does this mean you risk your talent losing their shine, but new employees may feel overwhelmed by what is normal in the office. This could lead to problems in the onboarding process and could even be harming your employee retention levels.

Prevent out-of-hours contact

Can it wait until tomorrow? Sending or answering emails from work after they've clocked out for the day prevents employees from ever really switching off. This is likely to impact their sleep patterns and their family life. This might not sound like an immediate concern for an employer, but tired professionals who aren't able to spend time with those close to them either don't perform well or look elsewhere for jobs.

There may be a few instances where someone needs contacting out of hours but every other option should be investigated first, especially if they're on annual leave. They give you their all when in the office, so the least an employer can do is give staff a break when they need it. 

Get social

If co-workers can become friends then it can reduce the risk of burnout. It makes the work environment a much more pleasant one to be in, while also ensuring they have someone to talk to if they are feeling weighed down by their workload. Social events are a key part of encouraging a closure workforce and should be a priority for any business that is motivated by employee wellbeing and performance.

By having a team that communicates well, it should reduce the need for a specific person to be bothered too. Their manager or co-workers should be aware of where they are on certain projects and can give insight on this if needed while they're away. They might not be able to give as much information as the professional themselves, but it may just be enough to allow the rest of the team to put out any fires until they're back.

A tidy environment

It may sound trivial, but encouraging teams to keep their working environment clean and tidy can have a massive impact on their mental wellbeing. This of course means organizing their desk space, but it should also extend to any communal areas, such as meeting rooms or kitchens.

Not only does this mean they will be less stressed, but it should also increase the chance that colleagues use these spaces to relax and unwind when they need a break. One of the most effective ways to introduce this is to schedule a time in each person's calendar each week where they shred unnecessary paper, tidy their desk and recycle what they can. This can be last thing on a Friday, as part of winding down for the week, and could be accompanied by a few drinks too.

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