Multitasking and long hours seem to be trending upward in the business world. Deadlines are closer together, bandwidth stretching thin, and the risk of burnout is sitting eagerly in everyone’s back pocket. Blend has become the new balance between work and life with technology as its catalyst of instant, insistent and sometimes downright intrusive need to be plugged in at all times.
At the end of the day we want to give ourselves a pat on the back for being the biggest, baddest employee out there, boasting our hours of overtime and how slammed we are. Unfortunately, that is not how human capital works. Consider buying a car that needs to be paid in full for one year and that equals your annual salary. Would you buy a car that works like a Lamborghini or is as shiny as the Bat Mobile to only have it putter out around month 6 or 7, maybe rounding out its good qualities around month 12? Probably not. In the same respect, a company isn’t investing its human capital money to watch burnout take its effect over the long haul.
So what can be done to ensure we don’t pitter patter until we are out of juice and need an expensive tune-up? To answer this, it is important to think strategically from the company’s standpoint as well as from the managers’ and employees’.
As a company, encourage monthly or bi-monthly events. Novotus has an event planning committee in full swing to create an enjoyable atmosphere while advocating for team bonding through friendly competition. We average about two events a month ranging from lunchtime yoga to pot-lucks, cook-offs and food drives. Novotus also holds a monthly bell ringing in which we all share in the successes of our other teammates. Taking the time to show that life isn’t all about work will go a long way in the success of your employees (think: affective commitment).
Delving deeper, management can play a crucial role in proactively avoiding burnout and actively seeking ways to hone in on positive employee experiences. In our fast-food world of order and get it in 90 seconds or less, it is a good idea to know which tasks need immediate feedback and which ones may not need your employees to respond to you at all. Second, it may be beneficial to keep an eye on everyone’s plate. During Thanksgiving, it is easy to pile a plate with the surplus of food available, but that doesn’t mean someone can eat everything on their plate nor give each food the time it deserves to really wrap one’s head around the aromas, textures etc. In the same way, I think many employees will load up their plate not realizing what it actually takes to get through everything in a quality driven way. Finally, employees look to you for how to act. You did something great to get to the management level, so mimicking your behaviors is natural for most employees. Try taking those lunch breaks, or walking around the office every once in a while.
As an employee, remember to take “think” breaks during the day even if you have to put them in your calendar. Get up and walk around about every 90 minutes. Also, focus on one thing at a time. You would never drink coffee in the shower, mop the floor while dusting, or feed the baby while mowing the lawn. Give each project its due respect, energy and time and watch as the product-driven quality emerges. Finally, sleep and refuel. Do not hibernate, re-start, or log-off like a computer, actually hit the shut-down button and force close the projects still left open on your mind at night.
Many companies are asking their employees to do more for less and although it may seem like huge challenges are being conquered, the risk of burnout is running right along with those achievements. Set fewer challenges, and expect great qualitative results!
About the author: Amanda Marfisi is a Recruitment Operations Administrator for Orion Novotus, an Recruitment Process Outsourcing company based in Austin, Texas.