By Christine McGuire
Everyone deals with burnout at some point in their career– it is inevitable, but as a leader, you can offer support and help get your employees out of the slump!
There is an increasing trend of excess stress experienced by employees at all levels. While there are many possible reasons for these increased stress levels – staffing issues, higher pressure for short-term results, expectations for being connected 24/7, the main result is always the same: stress is everywhere and this is particularly true for high achievers.
The field of donor relations is filled with high achieving women, and high achieving women tend to be even more prone to burnout. According to this study, women tend to feel more burned out, less driven and less inspired – especially since the pandemic. The study surveyed over 1,000 employees in the U.S. and U.K. and found that 68% of U.S. women had experienced burnout in the previous seven days while only 50% of U.S. men reported the same.
According to Gallup, in 2019, 30% of women and 27% of men said they "always" or "very often" felt burned out at work. That three-percentage-point gap expanded to 12 points during the pandemic months of 2020, and has averaged out to eight points in 2021 when 34% of women and 26% of men reported feeling burned out.
“I don’t wanna ‘lean in’. I wanna lie down”
Comedian Ali Wong
Burnout or “adrenal fatigue” as it is sometimes referred to, is what happens when our fight or flight brain is kicked into overdrive due to an overabundance of stress hormones. I bet we have all had days when we think about quitting and running off to a desert island somewhere. The burnout is so great that changing jobs feels like the best solution, and in some situations, it could be; however, it could also be that you just need to make some alterations to your current situation. Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer or “magic bullet,” but there are some tried and true ways that can lead to more positive attitudes and in turn more positive days.
Here are nine tips and tricks to help you fight burnout for yourself and your team:
Talk to your supervisor. This can be scary. No one wants their supervisor thinking they are not motivated or working hard. However, it is an effective way to open communication and begin to discuss real change.
Be honest with yourself and your family and admit that you are struggling. It can feel good to get this off your chest.
Reach out and build connections with friends, family, and co-workers. Feeling alone and isolated is part of the problem. Sharing your feelings and realizing you are not alone can help.
Take some time for yourself. I always say I am going to do this, but I never really do. What do you enjoy? Find something that takes your mind off work. During the pandemic, a lot of us got into unhealthy habits and we became unable to separate our work and personal lives. We need to all get back to setting limits on work time, and get into the habit of real self-care, prioritize doing things for yourself that may feel decadent or like a “guilty pleasure,” but it truly recharges your battery.
Use your vacation days more often!
If you’re a supervisor or manager, work hard to be present. Don’t cancel meetings with your team. Let one of your meetings be a personal check-in. Not every meeting has to be about work. Ask your employees how they are doing and really listen, and ask them what they need from you.
Add more social aspects to your day. Maybe try a lunch or a breakfast potluck with your team, have a 1:1 coffee or walking meeting.
Acknowledge your team and what they are doing well, do this aloud and in meetings, and do it often.
Give each member of your team a chance to report out at a meeting, create space for everyone to be “seen” and recognized.
Not all team members will respond to this advice, but as a supervisor, showing effort and genuine care will go a long way. Work on setting goals and making meaningful change and hopefully you can set the stage for a more positive environment that everyone can take advantage of.
What are some ways you are actively fighting burnout for yourself or your team? Do you already employ some of these tips or tricks? Have you had success with any particular tips or tricks of your own? Please share your thoughts with us!