7 Ways To Reduce Burnout In Your Tech Teams
The pandemic has resulted in a new kind of workplace burnout—making employee well-being more critical than ever. An Indeed survey reports 67% of all workers believe the pandemic has worsened burnout.
Paradigm shifts across all industries in how they work, post-COVID, and an unprecedented talent shortage due to the Great Resignation are sure-fire indicators of employee burnout.
Tech leaders around the world are asking themselves how to avoid burnout at work—how to cope with short-staffed tech teams, long task lists, tight deadlines, and the added pressure of adapting to the relatively new model of hybrid work.
Burnout has become synonymous with tech-related jobs and it doesn’t have to be. It is strongly influenced by how employees are managed and is preventable when you focus on the right factors.
In this blog, let’s reflect on the causes and consequences that come with workplace burnout and go about trying to reduce the chances of this happening.
Understanding workplace burnout: what it is and what it isn’t
I'm getting a bit burned out/crispy y'all. Day to day growing pains and conflict hit me hard today. I don't have a lot of reserves and need to find a way through.
I know a lot of people are in the same place. We'll get through this.
— Joe Beda (@jbeda) March 16, 2021
Workplace burnout occurs due to chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, as defined by The World Health Organization (WHO). And no, it is NOT solely due to working long hours.
COVID has accelerated the adoption of remote work. IT teams have been forced to take on rapid digital transformation to enable distributed workforces, completely out of the blue. The hyper use of technology, feeling disconnected from your team, or even being micromanaged by your manager can lead to workplace burnout.
When dealing with occupational burnout, I spoke with around 12 people. Colleagues & friends — some of whom I had known for many years.
Most of them said they had also dealt with burnout, either in the past or now. This BLEW MY MIND, since I know them very well.
— Roy Sarkar (@readroy) January 26, 2022
Key signals as given by WHO, to keep an eye out for:
- Feeling utterly exhausted
- Harboring negative feelings towards your work
- Decreasing professional efficacy
According to a Gallup study, burned-out employees are 63% more prone to take a sick day, 2.6x as likely to be actively seeking a different job, and the most worrisome of all, 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.
Also, read: What Recruiters Forecast For Tech Hiring In 2022
How to reduce burnout in the workplace
The past 2 years have been stressful, to say the least. People are making different life choices than they would have made before the pandemic, and defining success in new ways.
Employees are zeroing in on what matters most—how to derive maximum value from their work without putting their mental health at risk. They are expecting more from their managers, and more from their organizations in terms of empathy and understanding. 52% questioned their purpose at their day-to-day job in a recent Gartner survey.
As a manager, it falls upon you to take care of your employees—make sure their problems are heard, they don’t have unreasonable workloads, and they trust you to stand by them. But how do you do that when you are experiencing burnout as well?
Remember, as managers, you get burned out too. As seen in a Gallup survey, managers are more likely to suffer frequent burnout than the people they manage.
Managers, here are 7 ways on how to fix work burnout:
Lead by example
The team looks up to their manager to emulate appropriate workplace behaviors. This means it is critical for managers to first deal with their own stress. Otherwise, it permeates the atmosphere at work where your team starts picking up on your stress and everything takes a turn for the worse.
Just like any employee on the team, managers need to take their vacation, go on regular breaks, and be intentional about pursuing work/life balance. Show your team that you deal with burnout seriously and set a good example for them to follow.
Also, read: Corporate Compassion In The New ‘New Normal’: Where Do You Stand?
Encourage flexibility in the workday
How do organizations and business leaders help their anxious and burned-out employees? Empower your teams with flexibility. Don’t place limitations on how they work and where they work from.
The 9-to-5 workday model had been waning even pre-pandemic, but in a world of remote work and pandemic stress, it’s more crucial than ever that employees are allowed to choose their schedule—and be at their productive best.
A McKinsey study shows more than 50% of employees report that they would like to work from home at least three days a week post-pandemic. Offer remote/hybrid working models for your employees. If anything is to be learned from the Great Resignation, it is that people will switch jobs if their company returned to fully on-site work.
Recognize that when employees have the freedom to structure the workday around their needs, they won’t run into walls of frustration and stress and are instead, more motivated to work.
After working remotely for the entirety of the past two years, HackerEarth has transitioned into a hybrid work model—we are now expected to be in the office only one day per week. And, so far, it’s been great finally meeting our team in person, most of whom joined during the pandemic.
Also, read: The ‘Great Resignation’ In The Tech Industry – How To Prevent It
Provide employee assistance programs
Employee assistance programs can also promote self-care and stress management by providing mental health counseling and diet, exercise, and wellness coaching. Managers are not mental health experts but they point their employees in the right direction—encourage them to seek help from the resources available.
We, at HackerEarth, are pre-registered to 1to1help, an emotional well-being Employee Assistance Program that helps employees prioritize mental health. They conduct regular sessions on achieving work-life balance, managing anxiety, why taking care of mental health is important, and so on.
Equip employees with the proper tools
Make use of technology. Any task that is repetitive or doesn’t require manual effort can be automated. Leveraging the right set of tools for every task can significantly bring down stress levels and slash workloads for tech teams.
For instance, if you are a recruiter hiring for a developer, you cannot do everything by yourself—manually sifting through thousands of applications does not make sense. You need to be equipped with a stellar ATS to quickly scan resumes, a platform that offers screening capabilities through coding assessments and an intelligent coding interview tool like HackerEarth, and good onboarding software to make your recruits feel right at home!
Also, read: 21 Tech Recruiting Tools To Scale Your Hiring In 2021
Limit the team’s working hours
The downside of remote work is knowing how to switch off from work. With the lines getting blurrier between work and personal life, managers need to set clear parameters on work hours and expectations. Keep checking on your employees to ensure they are not overexerting themselves and being tempted to work long hours.
Zoom fatigue is real and hampers productivity to a large extent. As a manager, you have the power to establish meeting-free days, which greatly improve employee well-being. Have one day (or at least a half-day) with no meetings across your team. This will allow employees to catch up on emails and tasks that are behind—otherwise, contributing to a feeling of being swamped. They could even use this time to rest and recalibrate.
Promote work-life balance
Glint’s latest Employee Well-Being Report saw that today’s job candidates rank good work-life balance and excellent compensation/benefits as their main factors when considering working for an organization.
Promoting work-life balance begins at the top. At an organizational level, enforce company policy to shut down early before the holidays. Offer flexible scheduling of workdays to accommodate your employees’ needs.
Our entire office at HackerEarth went into OOO (Out Of Office) mode for the first-ever winter annual break last year. That was ten days of absolutely no work— only relaxing, spending time with loved ones, and maybe, going on a trip!
Managers must also ensure they take time out for exercise, family, and self-care. Within the workplace, offering a quiet space for your teams to unplug, meditate, pray or relax for a few minutes can help manage stress.
Also, read: 7 Employee Engagement Strategies For WFH Tech Teams
Encourage employees to use vacation time
Set an example by taking vacations where you, as a manager, are fully cut off from any work-related communication. Verbally encourage your team members to use their vacation time before it expires.
Make well-being a priority and foster a culture where employees encourage one another to have a healthy, productive work life amply supported by taking breaks to unplug and rejuvenate—either short ones or longer time-off. Given the rampant increase of stress and anxiety over the past couple of years, time-off will do wonders for your employees’ mental health.
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