Burnout has never been more prominent in a working environment than during the current pandemic. Burnout is caused by increased and prolonged levels of stress, which results in mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. This can ultimately lead to reduced motivation in your role and work.
In a previous blog, we highlighted that working from home can lead to increased levels of stress due to the lack of a work/life boundary. According to a recent survey 69% of employees are experiencing symptoms of burnout whilst working from home, yet are not taking the time off they need to recharge.
Before we provide some top tips on how to prevent burnout from occurring in your tech team, it is important to understand the symptoms and causes of burnout so that it can be recognised and dealt with quickly.
Symptoms of Burnout
As highlighted previously, burnout is a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. But how do you identify if your colleague is heading towards burnout?
From a professional perspective, individuals who are close to burnout will not only experience a reduction in their performance, due to a lack of creativity and struggle to concentrate, they will also distance themselves from colleagues. Physical symptoms may include headaches and stomachaches, whilst emotionally individuals will feel weary.
Causes of Burnout
A study by Gallup, identified the main causes of burnout. From which there are three in particular, that we will discuss further in this blog:
Vague communication with managers
These causes emphasise that burnout does not occur as a result of individual actions, but as a consequence of organisational practices.
How to Prevent Burnout
To help prevent burnout, we will attempt to offer suitable solutions to the causes mentioned above, that you can easily implement in your tech team.
A study of 1,066 employees discovered that the fundamental cause of workplace stress was due to workload. In order to prevent workload from building and becoming unmanageable for members of your team, it is important to keep track and monitor how team members are coping. This can be as straightforward as sending them a quick message to check in, now that natural face-to-face interactions are limited due to the current pandemic, it is virtual to put in that extra-effort to connect.
When delegating workload to your team, remember to take into account people’s personal engagements. Acknowledging your team members work/life balance will help to provide feasible workloads, a previous study has indicated that only 43% of employees believe their employers pay attention to their work/life balance.
Additionally, if you think that one of your team members has a particularly heavy workload, remind them to take breaks, so as to reduce stress levels, and help them to prioritise effectively, so that they efficiently deal with their workload.
Vague Communication With Managers
Lack of and miscommunication whilst remote working is a difficult barrier to overcome; results of one study found that a quarter of employees working from home consider maintaining communication to be the biggest challenge. However, using communication channels like Slack and Zoom can help to facilitate more consistent conversation, helping to reduce ambiguity.
Having regular communication not only with managers, but also other members of the team, will help to stimulate the feeling of togetherness within the team and hopefully reduce the ability of the employee to alienate themselves from their colleagues – a symptom of burnout.
An important aspect of reducing vague communication, is to implement structure within your communication channels. This will enable the members of your tech team to know which channel they need to communicate through in what scenarios. When reflecting on previous communication, this will also make it clearer where your team should look for what information.
For example, Slack is an effective platform for immediate updates, and instruction that requires prompt action from team members. Whereas Zoom meetings are perhaps more effective when utilised for important communication, and instruction that requires higher levels of action from the team. Using Zoom or an alternative video conferencing tool with important communication messages, should also help to reduce vague communication, as the ability to see people whilst interacting will allow colleagues to pick up on non-verbal queues, which should reiterate the information that is being communicated.
Flexibility is key to preventing your team members from having irrational deadlines and reducing the likelihood of burnout. Particularly during the current global pandemic, it is crucial to understand that your team members’ circumstances may have changed. For example they could be working from their bedroom with limited internet access, or they may have to become responsible for the care of a family member.
Being adaptable with deadlines, will also give your team members the freedom to innovate, which not only counteracts the lack of creativity symptom of burnout, but will also benefit the organisation as innovation leads to growth.
To avoid irrational deadlines, communicate the schedule of the team in advance to allow your team members to either readjust their circumstances, or make you aware of their situation.
Implementing these solutions into organisation should help to reduce the likelihood of burnout within your tech teams.
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