3 Strategies for addressing burnout as an organizational culture Issue

Transitioning to working from home, in a normal time, provides employees with some different challenges of how to integrate work and life in the best way. However, now there are additional family demands, an unstable economy, and a range of new responsibilities needed to stay safe. When you put these all together, you have the prime conditions for burnout. Supporting Core Leaders to manage burnout for themselves and their teams is a key strategy for maintaining high performing teams. And managing burnout should be elevated to a cultural issue that wise HR Leaders are taking on.

The following are 3 of our top strategies to navigate this:


Strategy #1- Identify the burnout challenges in your organization

Engage in dialogue with people across your organization to identify the cultural norms that may be contributing to workplace burnout. Hosting these conversations with Core Leaders can offer your organization a huge opportunity for supporting small shifts that add up over time. You’ll want to explore questions like:


  • What goals are we able to shift during this time?
  • What organizational standards can we lower the bar on temporarily?
  • What specific support do we need to provide so people don’t burn out?
  • How do we extend compassion and grace vs. unrealistic expectations?


Strategy #2 – Create safety for honest dialogue

One of the best ways to prevent burn out and help people be more productive is to create a space and environment where people can say what’s really going on and ask for help. This might include flexibility with their working hours to take care of children, leeway on deadlines, or the option of not attending certain meetings. During this uncertain time, many employees are concerned about being perceived as underperformers or not being willing to pitch in. Making sure it is safe to express their challenges without fear of what there repercussions might be can lead to important problem-solving conversations.


Strategy #3 – Provide skills and structures to prevent burnout in a virtual world

The three ways to combine rest and recovery with productivity are:

1) Prioritize recharging – This means letting employees know that their managers support them to block time to take breaks, go outside, unplug, and get enough sleep.

2) Plan for productivity – This can be accomplished by making sure employees know the most critical work to focus on. Once key deliverables are accomplished, scheduling time to reflect and plan helps employees keep their focus on the right things.

3) Help employees set boundaries around availability, working hours, deadlines, and office hours. Being online 24 x 7 fosters burnout, not excellence.


We’ll leave you with final thoughts.

First, remember, the Core Leaders in your organization set the example. What they do will show people what is expected and accepted in your organization.

Finally, people need Senior Leaders to advocate on their behalf by recognizing how demands can be reduced, what expectations can be reprioritized, or what extra support is needed.

The reality is that if you don’t reprioritize and make the hard decisions on what can be taken off people’s plates, or find ways to support them, your people will reprioritize them for you when they burn out.