HomeStartup InsightsSmall Business Burnout: How Eight Owners are Coping

Small Business Burnout: How Eight Owners are Coping

What’s one way you’re coping with burnout in your business?

Getting through this pandemic is consuming a great deal of energy for many people. The current hiring landscape is also making it hard to find talent, which means you’re likely working through the vacations you should be taking to recharge that much-need energy. You’re not in this alone, however! Just look to these eight business owners we asked this question to, and see how they’re leading the way within their businesses to avoid dreaded burnout and fatigue.

  • Keep Lines of Communication Open and Flowing
  • Pause and Meditate
  • Draft a Roadmap of Priorities
  • Acknowledge the Hard Work and Achievements of Your Staff
  • Invest in Employee Retention
  • Leave Time Each Day to Reflect on Business Matters
  • Encourage and Honor PTO
  • Recognize the Systemic Issues Aren’t on the Individual to Solve

Keep Lines of Communication Open and Flowing

Communication and high expectations are the main causes of burnout in any career or industry. As “Quiet Quitting” and the “Great Resignation” carries on, workers are feeling more emotionally drained than ever due to their homes turning into remote office environments, and they’re unable to separate work and their homelife. Employees are working until late hours of the night due to tight deadlines and pressure from upper management. Signs of burnout to look out for are constant mistakes in their workload, slow response times, and employees who are the first in and last to leave the office.

Supervisors need to keep communication lines open and encouragement levels high, and they need to set clear expectations for workers. Let employees know they can slow down, and you don’t need them to sacrifice their mental health for their position. Offer support and guidance, and be sure to give recognition where it’s due.

Corey Ashton Walters, Here

Pause and Meditate

The best way to recover from burnout is to pause and meditate. Burnout occurs when a professional feels a reduced sense of accomplishment and drive to continue their responsibilities. In this disorientated and stress-filled state, it becomes difficult to accomplish even simple tasks. When people take time to gather their thoughts in silence, it helps create a habit of mindfulness—an essential practice that helps people uncover the underlying problem.

Mindfulness refers to the mental exercise of being open with your feelings and thoughts, without any hindrances. One of the most straightforward ways to be mindful is to meditate. People get surprised by the things they discover during a mediation session. After discovering the problem, people can devise plans to solve it and uproot it from its cause. Doing so helps eliminate the cause of burnout, allowing people to recover from it.

Tristan Buenconsejo, TriBu LinkBuilding

Draft a Roadmap of Priorities

As a startup or small business owner, it’s easy to feel like you must juggle everything until you suddenly realize that you’re running on empty. To prevent this and achieve the smart goals you’ve set, make sure you take the time to identify your main priorities and create a roadmap to success. This will help you better manage your time and energy, allowing freedom for regular breaks to reset and recharge, reassess your needs if you start to feel overwhelmed, and evaluate where learning opportunities exist.

Marilyn Zubak, Snif

Acknowledge the Hard Work and Achievements of Your Staff

The work of your staff is the backbone of any organization. It has been a long 18 months, and many people have been working remotely, but they must know how much their hard-earned efforts matter and to know they’re valued by their company.

You can do this by making sure to use messages from leadership or have one-on-one meetings where you individually praise specific achievements (and note people who went above and beyond) so every employee feels recognized and celebrated on an ongoing basis with regular feedback. This is especially true during these trying times where companies need all hands on deck more than ever before.

Tracey Beveridge, Personnel Checks

Invest in Employee Retention

Our start-up is implementing several measures to prevent burnout among employees in our remote workplace. We’re building a different kind of organization with an employee-first approach, where psychological safety comes first above all else. This includes creative cultural development such as game nights and open ideation sessions; employee development in the form of mindfulness, meditation, dispute-resolution, and mediation training; professional development such as performance coaching available one-on-one and team training; and community engagement opportunities, like PTO for quarterly volunteer work. We’re fostering a healthy work culture and combating burnout by investing in every step of our employees’ long-term journey.

Lindsay Hischebett, Flaus

Leave Time Each Day to Reflect on Business Matters

Set aside time each day to take a step back and reflect on your energy and how you feel about your work. Business owners tend to get trapped in their never-ending to-do lists, leading to additional stress, anxiety, and overwhelming feelings. To combat this and not overwhelm yourself, spend some time each day meditating, journaling, or reading and reflecting on areas where you feel successful and others where you feel uncertain.

Jason McNary, Brandon Blackwood

Encourage and Honor PTO

The pandemic makes it hard for a lot of us to shut off and put work down entirely. There was a period of time where very few people were taking vacation because, well, where would anyone even go? Now more than ever, it’s important for us to encourage our employees to take PTO and actually disconnect from work (and to lead by example by taking PTO ourselves).

Everyone needs to relax and reset. More importantly, we need to honor our employees’ PTO by not reaching out via email, Slack, Teams, etc. even if you say “don’t respond until you’re back”.  We are all re-learning and re-framing our work boundaries and as leaders, we need to be setting a good example!

Alyssa Rhoda, Zefr

Recognize the Systemic Issues Aren’t on the Individual to Solve

7 out of 10 professionals experience burnout. To truly solve burnout, we need to stop blaming individuals and instead see burnout as a systemic problem which is everyone’s responsibility in the workplace to help solve. The root causes of burnout are usually a combination of many issues stemming from a lack of ownership of oneself, ineffective team processes and/or poor company culture and even a lack of leadership.

One way organizations can start to reduce burnout among team members is to create psychological safety within their culture. Then, everyone feels safe to set boundaries at work, speak up when they feel overwhelmed, and ask for support. An effective way to do this at scale is to roll out training to employees and leaders, and create a safe space for everyone to learn, reflect and share together. Then the isolating feeling that comes with burnout begins to dissolve. When that safety is present, issues can be addressed as they come up, rather than trying to fix a problem (burnout) when it’s too late.

Shauna Moran, Operate Remote

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