Times are tough and it can take its toll on the people you work with. Focusing on effective management, how can you avoid your tech team burning out?
Job burnout is not a new phenomenon, it’s an issue that has been around for a while. However, our fast-paced, digital lifestyles have amplified the problem, and that’s before you even factor in the impact COVID-19 has had on tech teams in the past 12 months.
For many, the day-to-day pressures of the job can leave your team feeling exhausted, disillusioned or helpless. If this is the case, they could well be on the road to suffering from burn out.
While burnout can happen in any industry, people working in tech are especially susceptible to the feelings that come with suffering burnout. Indeed, a survey of thousands of employees from tech companies including Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon found that 57% were currently suffering job burnout.
When burnout strikes, it’s not a simple as just taking time away from work (especially as most teams are working remotely). In fact, employees who say they often suffer from burnout are 64% more likely to take a sick day, and 2.6x more likely to actively seek a new job.
It’s therefore important to understand exactly what burnout is, and as a company, what you can do to avoid your tech team burning out.
What is burnout?
Burnout is an occupational phenomenon which the World Health Organisation defines as ‘a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’
In addition, burnout is characterised by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
- reduced professional efficacy
These feelings have a knock-on effect on their family life too, which can lead to increased stress and suffering.
In today’s world, and with the lines between work life and home life becoming increasingly blurred due to remote working, companies have a responsibility to help their teams avoid burnout.
Avoiding burnout through great management
When people feel inspired, motivated and supported in their work, they do more work — and that work is significantly less stressful on their overall health and wellbeing.
A recent report from Gallup found that unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workload, unclear communications from managers, lack of support and unreasonable time pressure were the top five factors that correlate with employee burnout.
These top factors are clearly linked to manager behaviour and as a manager, you need to ask yourself if you are addressing these key concerns within your tech teams. Unfortunately, can ineffective managers become the cause of burnout, rather than its cure.
If you manage a tech team, here are 6 suggestions on how you can avoid your tech team burning out:
Communicate and connect
Understanding the importance of the mental health and well-being of each member of your team is crucial. Have you noticed a drop off in engagement or a change in behaviour?
Make sure you’re regularly checking in with each of them and finding out how they are. Perhaps they might be struggling with remote working, lockdown, juggling their family life. You won’t now unless you ask.
Be aware of people’s time
Managers need to make use of each member of their team effectively. Be aware if you are piling on the pressure or asking too much of an individual.
Can you split out the responsibilities in a fairer way? Does everybody need to be on alert for issues that arise, or can this responsibility be shared?
Hold more efficient meetings and catchups
Meetings and Zoom/Teams calls have gone through the roof in the last 12 months. Indeed, asking a quick question over the desk has become a thing of the past.
A calendar full of meetings leaves little time for tech teams to be agile or create business value. Making these meetings more efficient and streamlined should help you reduce the number you need hold.
Focus on well-being
This could recovery time in between IT rollouts, building support systems among your team, addressing unreasonable deadlines, utilising flexible schedules and helping people reconnect their sense of purpose with the task at hand.
Rediscover their purpose
Frequently remind your teams of why the work you’re doing matters to your customers and how it’s solving their problems. Think about the contribution they’re making, how it feels and make sure you share this recognition.
Make them aware of their impact on the team, department and company as a whole.
Stick to the schedule for the day and encourage your teams to switch off once they’ve finished for the day.
When your team used to leave for the day, they weren’t necessarily responding to work demands when they got home. Be mindful of the ‘always on’ culture that comes from working from home.