How To Help Your Employees Avoid Burnout // How To Improve The Work Culture As A Leader
Do your employees panic when they see your name pop up in their inbox?
Around the water-cooler, do they complain of looming project deadlines?
Is the atmosphere of the office tenser than you KNOW it should feel?
It might be time to reevaluate the work culture.
First, let’s dive into what exactly “work culture” means:
The quickest answer is that work culture is the personality of the workplace. Indeed.com says, “Work culture is a collection of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in a work environment.”
Think of it this way: The work culture of a hospital is much different from the work culture of a local brewery. They have different personalities.
Why do business leaders need to consider the culture of their workplace?
Well, it’s important for the health and well-being of every employee working there (even you!).
Let’s look at two examples.
Example 1: The Overwhelmed Workplace
This happens when employees sense that the words and actions of their leader don’t match.
Your employees will believe YOUR actions, regardless of the words you say. And if your words and actions don’t match, there will be friction. And employees will believe your actions every time.
This is when I learned to become a balanced leader:
I worked for a small, not-for-profit feminist organization called Women’s Network. My team and I were working on a national project. I would often start my workday at 4:00 in the morning. This included firing off a bunch of emails to my staff.
They didn’t see that I also left work earlier. Or that I stopped working at noon. (If I was working at home that day).
The only thing my team saw from me was my actions… Sending them a flood of emails at early hours each day.
I came to realize that my actions were causing them constant anxiety and burnout.
My team felt pressure to respond to those emails as soon as they were received. They also felt as if they had to start their workday at 4:00 AM, too.
Of course, that was never my intention. But, my words did not align with my actions. So they believed my actions.
The takeaway: Work culture is always built from the top. Strong, balanced leadership leads to a balanced culture.
Example 2: The Balanced Workplace
Your team will imitate the behavior you model. You need to balance your workload with some self-care so that you don’t get overwhelmed either.
Of course, as a business grows, there will be seasons where you have to sprint. Remind your team that the sprint is a temporary means to an end (rather than a regular expectation). This is critical.
Here’s how I help my employees thrive (and avoid burning out):
Recently we worked on a report with a deadline, and my staff person took the lead on this.
She worked through the weekend to hit the deadline.
It is not our culture to work on the weekends. But she knew that a temporary sprint was required for her to meet that deadline.
If a sprint like that needs to happen, then your actions as a leader must reflect the culture.
So, during that sprint, I ordered dinner for her family to help them get through that time. And the Monday following the deadline was a day off to make up for the lost weekend.
The takeaway: If you want your staff to thrive, then try not to burnout yourself.
As a trained mediator, I know that we assume negative intentions in others when trust is lacking.
Aligning your words and your actions builds employees’ trust in your leadership. And a trusted leader is key to a balanced work culture.
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