10 practical things leaders can do to help team members avoid burnout

It’s not news to business leaders across the nation that the current labor market is tight. In a movement that’s been dubbed the “Great Resignation,” many professionals are leaving unsatisfying jobs or workplaces to seek a better fit, while others are willing to extend their job searches until they find the best work situation for their unique circumstances.

Finding and retaining talent is increasingly challenging for businesses, so it’s essential for leaders to take good care of the valued team members they already have. However, the very circumstances that are leading to labor shortages also contribute to added stress for workers and businesses that are already struggling. Many companies are short-staffed at the moment, which can lead to extra work, stress and fatigue for team members.

In these times, it’s essential to develop strategies to help your team members avoid burnout. Here, 10 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss some practical things businesses can do to help team members stay on track, manage stress and continue to thrive in their roles.

1. Follow the Pareto principle.
Set clear goals and expectations about what is important, and have team members focus on those items that will have the most impact, following the Pareto principle (aka the 80/20 rule). This principle states that 20% of activity accounts for 80% of output, so be sure to prioritize (with the team’s input) the tasks, clients and outcomes that should be focused on, and let the others go. – Lisa Riley, Delta Business Advisors, LLC

2. Focus on your top priorities.
Learn to prioritize. As a business, especially a startup, you’ll always want to achieve more than is possible with the available resources. To stay focused and succeed, organize projects in order of priority for the business, and start from the top. Don’t try to work on all possible aspects of your business simultaneously, because your team will feel overwhelmed and not achieve anything concrete. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

3. Encourage the team to share their views.
Businesses should help team members avoid burnout during these busy and stressful times by creating an environment where they can share their views and options about schedules, workloads or projects in a judgment-free zone. – Emmanuel Eliason, Eliason Wealth Management

4. Reallocate tasks and adjust timelines as needed.
Reallocate and re-timeline projects. When you’re short-staffed, you can’t expect to get everything done on the same timelines you originally planned or hoped. Spend time reallocating tasks or projects where possible, and adjust the remaining projects to more realistic timelines. Something has to give, and you don’t want it to be quality, so reduce what needs to be done to a reasonable level. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

5. Make sure you have the needed time and resources for new projects.
I begin by negotiating a reasonable schedule with the client. Often, businesses agree to unreasonable schedules just to win work. I then evaluate whether we have the right team for the project. Having the wrong team on a project results in inefficiencies, which in turn results in overwork. – Jerry Ramos, LJA Program Management, LLC

6. Bring on assistants for key staff members.
Hire assistants for your key staff members who are experiencing burnout. You can use sites such as Upwork to find virtual assistants who can help with the lower-level administrative tasks that your team just might be mired in. This support expands your team’s bandwidth and, in many cases, leads to the creation of more valuable employees. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

7. Batch tasks by similarity.
As much as we’d like to be, most of us are not good at multitasking. It’s just how the brain works. Instead, try to batch tasks by similarity. For example, schedule all sales calls in a row so you have three consecutive hours of doing the same thing and don’t have to shift focus back and forth. This simple change can reduce the stress of day-to-day work, and it also has a positive long-term effect. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

8. Recognize and reward your team for their great work.
Acknowledge the heavy load, and remember to recognize and reward your team for their great work. And have fun with it! Everyone needs something to smile about, which can help alleviate stress and limit burnout. – Rebecca Thorburn, Visible Impact

9. Pitch in as needed.
Acknowledge that work can come in quickly. Providing upper-level or management support on a campaign until it’s up and running can greatly help during a heavy workload period, which will smooth out over time. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

10. Proactively address mental health.
One way to help alleviate stress and burnout is to proactively address mental health issues. Providing outlets for employees to talk, share concerns or work through issues is paramount. Our company benefits include mental health consultation, for example. Helping employees stay organized and increase efficiency is also a potential fix. – Kent Lewis, Deksia