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Burnout is Spooky: Here are 4 Ways to Prevent it

If you feel like the energy vampires have been sucking the life out of you, you’re not alone. Some reports suggest one in five highly-engaged team members is at risk of burnout. Social media definitely comes with its own challenges. That means you could potentially lose your best team players if you don’t deal with the impending burnout quickly.

Even the most high-powered executives give many reasons why stepping away is crucial. It enhances creativity, performance, and leads to a better quality of life in general.

But knowing how to encourage your team (and yourself) to take a break when there’s work to be done can feel impossible. “Sure,” your team members might think, “We’ll take a step back once we’ve finished this latest assignment.” Then it takes an entire full moon for that break to come, and by then it’s too late – your team has transformed into monstrous versions of themselves.

How can you help your social media team avoid the curse of burnout? Here are four ways.

burnout

1. Recognize The Spooky Symptoms

Burnout is often associated with experienced team members who have been on the job for years. But it’s not just seasoned staff who struggle with it—it’s the newer team members, too.

Here are some of the top signs your office is exhausted:

  • Just when you get a new person trained, they leave. Retention is a key indicator of the health of a workplace. If your turnover is high, especially among new team members, you may be pushing them too hard.
  • Low work productivity or quality. If there’s a sudden dip in the quality of your team’s work quantity or quality, it could be a sign of impending burnout. Use time-tracking software to maintain visibility into work production to spot slowdown early – before it’s too late.
  • Increased complaining. Is your team complaining like banshees? When people find less satisfaction in their work, they’re more likely to focus on the little things that annoy or irritate them.
  • Disengagement. If you have people performing work without passion or interest – as if they’re the living dead – then they might be disengaged. That’s a sign it’s time to switch things up.
  • Higher sensitivity. For some people, hiding their displeasure becomes impossible if their emotional reserves are drained.

Being aware of these and other signs of burnout can let you recognize them early enough to act. But what do you do once you spot the symptoms of burnout?

2. Keep Work Engaging

If your team is grinding day-in, day-out on the same tasks, they’re likely to get bored (and burnt out) quickly.

But how do you keep work engaging when you’re primary responsibilities are performing similar tasks every day?

One idea is to give the opportunity to expand the type of work they do. Switching which accounts team members manage or giving them the opportunity to create different types of media can be enough to create variety and thus re-engage them.

Another idea is to give them time to work on work-related projects of their own choosing every week. Google has its famous 20% rule where employees can create their own masterpieces. Even if you can’t afford the full 20%, giving the opportunity to pursue passion projects could contribute to the company.

Finally, sometimes a team retreat is just what everyone needs. Interacting with team members outside of work settings can help them feel refreshed, resolve interpersonal conflicts, and make work plain fun again.

3. Make Vacations Mandatory

Being forced to take vacations could be hard for some employees at first. Yet time off could be one of the most effective ways to keep them engaged.

Some companies are experimenting with mandatory vacations. Here’s what happened when a global aviation strategy firm implementing a mandatory week off every seven weeks:

Creativity went up 33%, happiness levels rose 25%, and productivity increased by 13%. It’s a small sample, sure, but there’s a meaningful story here. When we dive deeper in creativity, the average employee score was 3.0 before time off and 4.0 after time off. For happiness, the average employee score was 3.2 before time off and 4.0 afterward. And for productivity, the average employee score was 3.2 before and rose to 3.6.

Since the indicators of burnout are lack of happiness, productivity and creativity, the increase of these factors seem to indicate a great antidote.

Not all businesses can afford to take an entire week off several times per year. But simply requiring your team to use their vacation time on an annual basis could be enough to break the spell of burnout.

4. Take A Break From Social Media

It’s tempting to stay connected 24/7. But if you work in social media, and are always on social media even when you’re at home, you’re never giving yourself a break from work.

(Even the undead need to take a brain-break every once in a while.)

Emailing after work has been tied to increased anxiety and poor work/life balance, key contributors to burnout. To fight this, some companies implement a no-email-after-work policy. If you work in social media, a no-social-after-work policy could be the way to go. Too much social media can skew our perception of ourselves, the world around us, and our friends—often times, leading to depression.

This is easier said than done, especially since social media is designed to be used as often as possible through brain chemical rewards. (Thanks, dopamine receptors.) But through deliberate decision making, you can help create the space needed for inspiration.

To avoid having anxiety and depression, step away from social.

Don’t Turn Into Zombies

If you don’t manage burnout in your office, you might as well hire zombies to manage your social media accounts. Holding on to good team members means keeping them excited, challenged and refreshed. From creative brainstorming sessions, to team building outings, and encouraging your team to take vacation leave when they have it and taking a break from social media on nights and weekends, these are tips that can keep any team member performing at their best.

What tips do you have for keeping your employees working at their best? Tell us in the comments below!

 


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Hilary Thompson

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Sprout Social Agency Partner & Founding Member
Category: Social Business, Social Collaboration, Social Media in the Workplace
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