Stress, anxiety and burnout are serious problems for workers, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this fact. Employee burnout reached a record high in August 2020, and has risen by 4% since then. Sales managers should be paying close attention to their teams to make sure they aren’t close to breaking.
Stress is a big problem in sales. Around two-thirds of sales professionals are close to experiencing burnout, and overworked, anxious employees aren’t a recipe for a positive work environment. Sales and business development representatives have been the worst hit in recent months, with over half reporting poor mental health. If managers aren’t aware of these issues, they can build up until the whole team is struggling.
Tackling burnout isn’t an easy task, but it can be split up into two steps: spotting the warning signs and taking action. Remember that prevention is better than cure, so the earlier you can take steps to prevent burnout, the easier it’ll be.
How to spot sales burnout
Spotting burnout can be easy or difficult, depending on the person. Many employees will express their dissatisfaction in one or more ways; HubSpot recommends looking out for negativity, lack of motivation and apathy about professional development, for example. However, some signs are more subtle.
They might be mental, like the aforementioned negativity, but they could also be physical. Exhaustion and headaches are common symptoms of burnout, as well as increased susceptibility to colds and flu. If employees start taking more time off due to sickness than usual, that could be a sign of burnout.
A lot of these symptoms are similar to that of stress. While you should also take steps to reduce stress at work, burnout isn’t the same thing. The main difference is that stressed employees tend to over-engage with work, while burned-out staff will typically move away from their work and become apathetic about it.
What can you do about it?
Once you’ve spotted signs of burnout, you need to deal with it. This can be difficult, and it’s often worth putting extra effort into creating a positive workplace culture so employees have the ability to manage stress more effectively. For example, 60% of sales professionals said they would be viewed negatively if they took time off to manage burnout. Creating a culture where employees can take time off without judgement will help with this.
Work-life balance is also important. Both extremely busy and extremely quiet periods of work can push employees towards burnout, and it’s here that management can make a real difference by balancing workloads appropriately. Avoiding significant peaks and troughs of activity for staff can help to smooth out difficulties and ensure individuals are better able to factor in the flexibility they need in their schedules to perform at their best.
This continues after the workday has ended. Employees need time to disconnect from their work, meaning you should avoid contacting them outside work hours wherever possible. Encourage them to make a clean break from their work whenever they sign off for the day, enabling them to make the most of their rest time.
Implementing strategies to better manage staff workload, giving people the time to switch off from work and keeping a close eye on the warning signs of stress and burnout will all help to push back that breaking point and give your sales teams the best platform from which to succeed.