Managers Can Play a Part in Combating Burnout. Here’s How.

Leaders from Mythic, Ginger and AllStripes share their insight on spotting signs of burnout, supporting overburdened employees and preventing exhaustion in the long run.
Written by Olivia McClure
March 29, 2022Updated: March 29, 2022

Burnout isn’t always caused by an overwhelming workload. In fact, private struggles and global crises can fuel exhaustion in the workplace. 

That’s why Dawn Wiktor maintains regular one-on-one meetings with her direct reports to keep a pulse on their well-being from a professional and personal standpoint. Yet the director of validation at Mythic knows it’s not enough to simply listen to them discuss their struggles.

“Consider reducing their workload or asking them to take time off,” Wiktor said. “It’s also important to provide them with information about your company’s resources, such as an employee assistance program, and walk them through their options rather than simply sending them a link to navigate the process themselves.”

In truth, managers have a large part to play in both mitigating and preventing burnout. According to Ginger Vice President of Product Marketing Adam Hall, it’s important for managers to leverage healthy practices, such as a meditation or exercise regimen. In doing so, managers can empower employees to maintain a proper work-life balance. 

Built In San Francisco caught up with Wiktor, Hall and AllStripes Director of Community Success and Patient Engagement Erin Smith to gather their tips for identifying, managing and preventing burnout. 

 

Dawn Wiktor
Director of Validation

 

Mythic’s AI compute platform powers various product types, from smart surveillance camera systems to commercial drones. 

 

How can you tell when an employee is feeling burned out?

People experiencing burnout may appear more irritable or defensive when asked to take on extra work. They may also have a more emotional reaction to normal circumstances and seem disengaged during meetings. It’s crucial to look out for these types of behavioral changes, especially if they persist. Get to know your employees and their working styles, as this makes it easier to identify behavioral shifts.

 

How should managers react when they realize an employee is burned out?

Maintain regular one-on-one meetings with the employee to discuss what may be causing their fatigue, whether it’s related to work, family or global events. Ask them questions and truly listen, as the reason for burnout isn’t always obvious. If it’s related to work, ask the employee to write down all of their projects and tasks. Then, identify areas where they may need assistance, prioritize their tasks appropriately and set clear expectations. Always offer assistance, even if the employee’s burnout is due to pressures outside of work. 

Set clear expectations for team members and minimize the need for handling several high-priority assignments at once.”

 

What can managers do to prevent burnout from happening in the future?

It’s crucial to have regular one-on-one meetings with every employee. Ask each team member how they’re doing overall, and don’t focus every discussion on their job performance or company news. That way, you can get a better sense of their working style and any roadblocks they’re facing, while also allowing them to communicate their concerns, whether they’re personal or related to work. 

Encourage employees to take time off regularly. Also, don’t constantly shift their priorities. If a task is close to the finish line and another one comes along, allow them to complete the current one before working on the next assignment, even if it’s a higher priority. Set clear expectations for team members and minimize the need for handling several high-priority assignments at once, as this can cause employees to feel overwhelmed. By understanding every employee’s preferred working style, you’ll be able to help them enjoy their work more fully, while also boosting the team’s productivity. 

 

 

Adam Hall
Vice President of Product Marketing

 

Ginger’s mental health app offers access to text-based behavioral health coaching, video therapy and psychiatry, and self-guided care resources. 

 

How can you tell when an employee is feeling burned out?

Burnout grows over time, so watch out for behavioral changes. Ask yourself, “Are they interacting differently, responding more slowly or appearing tired?” Burned out employees can also respond passionately to innocuous questions. It’s equally important to remain mindful of employees who aren’t taking time off, working outside of normal hours, and communicating with team members at all times of the day, as these actions can lead to burnout. 

 

How should managers react when they realize an employee is burned out?

It’s not enough to simply address the burnout. In the past, recognizing an employee’s fatigue early on has enabled me to employ positive coaching to help them take time off and truly disconnect from their work. I also encourage burned out employees to take other steps, such as removing work-related apps from their handheld devices. 

If the situation is serious, it may be necessary to engage with your company’s HR team and ask the individual to take an extended break from work. It can also be helpful to ask them to use the organization’s medical or mental health benefits, as these can help a burned out employee recover in a more sustainable way. 

Managers must ensure team members know how to embrace healthy practices.”

 

What can managers do to prevent burnout from happening in the future?

It’s important to leverage certain practices, such as meditation, exercise and calendar blocking, to encourage everyone on your team to stay healthy. Managers must ensure team members know how to embrace these types of practices, use company benefits, take time off without feeling stressed and openly discuss their concerns when needed. 

 

 

Erin Smith
Director of Community Success & Patient Engagement

 

AllStripes enables patients diagnosed with rare diseases to contribute to treatment studies. The company’s platform is designed to securely access patients’ medical records, which are then used to jumpstart research.  

 

How can you tell when an employee is feeling burned out?

I use weekly one-on-one meetings to check in on employees’ overall wellness and workload. Remote work has made it harder to recognize when employees are overwhelmed, so it’s critical to maintain these regular discussions. I use these chats to search for signs of burnout, such as extreme reactions to normal stressors, an inability to complete tasks, a refusal to ask for help, and avoidance of chatter on Slack and elsewhere. 

 

How should managers react when they realize an employee is burned out?

Managers must respond quickly and empathetically. I would personally schedule time to chat with the employee about their burnout, while also contacting my manager and the HR team to gauge available options, such as vacation time and therapy. Managers must remember that their organizations offer plenty of resources, which can often be applied to burnout. 

When conversing with an employee experiencing burnout, let them guide the discussion and tell you what they need. It’s crucial to create a space for them to talk openly without fear of judgment or repercussions. Yet this is only made possible by building relationships with employees from the beginning. 

It’s crucial to create a space for employees to talk openly without fear of judgment or repercussions.”

 

What can managers do to prevent burnout from happening in the future?

Maintain regular, honest communication to monitor employees’ workloads, have hard conversations and identify stressors. Also, normalize taking time off, creating boundaries between work and home life, and asking for help. It’s also essential to celebrate employees’ wins and create a positive team culture. 

 

 

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