As many organizations continue to experience turnover, it’s critical to be tuned in to the needs of your staff and be proactive in preventing burnout. If you want to intervene in the culture of your organization, your approach will need to be tailor-made to the needs of your staff. But you can get started with these four surefire ways to have a pulse on what your team needs to thrive long-term.
1. Make time for 1:1 conversations
Regardless of what an organization says are its priorities and values, where it commits its time makes those values clearest. If, when things get busier, the first thing to go is individual check-ins and conversations with your staff, whether you mean it or not, that communicate to them that they are not your priority. It’s essential for the culture and long-term health of your staff and your organization that your employees are being checked on, individually, regularly. No matter how you structure them, if you don’t have dedicated time for your employees to ask questions, voice concerns, and share their needs, many of those things will go unsaid. It is critical that there is trust within these conversations and both feel safe in expressing what needs to be expressed. If you’ve not had these in the past, use this time to build trust, often this will mean showing vulnerability and giving the gift of going second.
2. Make sure people’s jobs play to their strengths
This can be hard to do with someone from day one, but over time, as you get to know an employee and learn their strengths and what work they truly enjoy most, you can let them work accordingly. Realistically, there are tasks that simply have to get done that might not be anyone’s absolute favorite thing. But your team members are far less likely to burn out when they are growing within their strengths rather than perpetually doing tasks that drain them and don’t fit within their personal and professional desires. To take this to the next level, as they are doing this work, show them how it connects to your mission. Your employees want to do what they love AND something that matters.
3. Create space to listen
This ties back into point one, but outside of individual conversations, it is important to create space for feedback. Whether this is through end-of-year evaluations or a suggestions box checked by an HR director, your staff will benefit from knowing that they have designated spaces to voice any concerns they have- especially if they may feel awkward bringing up an issue face to face with a supervisor. And when they do voice their concerns, show them that those concerns are valued and that you will take steps to address them and move forward accordingly.
4. Acknowledge the good and the bad
Many workplaces tend towards one direction- either excessively celebrating the good and ignoring the bad, or focusing on the bad and doing little to honor the good. Ignoring the difficulties creates an environment of false positivity where team members don’t feel safe bringing up problems; ignoring the accomplishments creates an environment where people are motivated by a desire not to fail rather than a desire to fulfill a vision, and the mission of your organization, as well as the mental health of your employees, gets pushed to the side. Ensure a healthy balance of both accountability and growth alongside celebration and joy. Your team needs both to survive and thrive.
Like we always say at Vanderbloemen, no two organizations or churches are alike. As you consider these four starting points to proactively address burnout in your workplace, take extra time to consider what it is that your people actually need right now. What works for one organization may not work for another, but you won’t know what does and doesn’t work if you don’t devote time to your team’s needs.