How To Combat Burnout

Burnout continues to plague the workforce. Learning how to prevent it is a ‘superpower’ for employees, and an asset for their companies.

It’s costing American business billions. It’s fueling a quiet mental health crisis among millions of employees. And it’s likely—even if you don’t know it—hurting your business, even now. The post-Covid burnout epidemic, as every HR pro knows all too well, is one of the most pressing challenges in the workplace today.

It’s hardly unfixable, though, according to workplace strategist Holland Haiis—you just need to know where to start. Haiis focuses on science-based professional development, equipping organizations with the necessary tools to foster healthy work culture. With clients like S&P Global and Pfizer, Haiis has the insights employers need to best navigate this potential minefield, as well as her take on how HR teams can better attract and retain key talent in this volatile time for talent.

The burnout epidemic costs billions of dollars annually due to high turnover and lost productivity. How can organizations redesign the workplace environment to better support their employees, so they don’t burn out?

Awareness and an honest discussion on this topic can be powerful. As a collective, we have experienced trauma and this has had an impact on how we think, react and sleep. Many employees are still experiencing a tremendous sense of loss and questioning their belonging.

Learning the science and how to combat burnout gives every employee a superpower. Much like a fire drill, you learn what to do to reach safety. Understanding and then applying techniques that are science-based is one of the greatest retention strategies an organization can have.

What are some of the best retention strategies currently being used?

Stay interviews. It’s surprising how many companies are not utilizing this tool which is rich in data. Instead, many focus on exit interviews, and from a strategy perspective, when an employee is exiting, they’re more interested in securing a future reference than helping an organization understand what needs to change within the culture.

There is also the feeling of “why now?” Some employees feel insulted to have been a part of the organization for seven or 10 years and yet when leaving, their opinion suddenly has value. Information garnered at an exit interview has very little, if any, value in creating meaningful change. Focus on current employees and how you can better support them which in turn creates better retention.

What are the initiatives an organization can consider when thinking about employee wellbeing beyond insurance, PTO and therapy options?

All of those benefits are incredibly important and certainly a good beginning, however not all employees utilize therapy and would like to have additional options for wellbeing benefits in the workplace.

Mental fitness, positive psychology and stress mastery are all viable alternatives. One of Harvard’s most popular courses focuses on happiness and flourishing. The value of learning how to master stress and overwhelm, as well as having happy employees in the workplace is contagious and advantageous to your clients, the team and profitability.

How should we reimagine leadership so employees remain motivated?

Inspire versus motivate. Leadership requires more being and less doing. Being patient, listening, sharing the vision and trusting your team. The best leaders realize it will never be perfect and the drive is toward greatness and not perfection. Designing a culture around perfectionism increases burnout and decreases inspiration and motivation. 

Leaders who create internal wellbeing initiatives to include daily and weekly practices that can be achieved as a team, discover their teams are highly motivated. This translates into increased levels of collaboration, thinking in new ways, and reaching out beyond the silos. Our brains like this too because we get doses of happy chemicals which keep us motivated and focused on how we can all be better leaders.

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