By Brittany Rock, Senior Program Manager, Training & Community Development
Editor’s note: This is a two-part piece on addressing workplace burnout. In part one, the author shares ideas on what organizations can do to help mitigate the effects of burnout and turnover using lessons learned from her participation in the 2022 Association for Talent Development Virtual Conference. In part two, the author provides recommendations and specific steps that organizations and individuals can incorporate in the workplace to help develop and retain talent.
The pandemic has shifted the way the world works and caused a lot of disruption as folks adapted to this change. We experienced growing pains as we were forced to learn new ways of doing things, and disruption as our routines and workloads shifted dramatically. Across the Global Ties Network, many of our members faced challenges including employee burnout and frequent staff turnover. As part of my role at Global Ties U.S., I help develop trainings and resources to meet the needs of the Network.
With burnout and turnout top of mind, I took part in the Association for Talent Development (ATD)’s 2022 Virtual Conference–see part one of this piece. Below are some ideas I took away from the conference and specific action steps to help you integrate these lessons learned into your organization.
How can your organization apply these lessons learned?
Developing a Sense of Community
- Find ways to incorporate specific, personalized gratitude daily to your colleagues in your team and across the Network. For example, I want to give a special shout out to Franzi Rook and Katherine Brown who encouraged me, supported my time off, and approved funding for me to be a member of the Association for Talent Development and attend ATD’s 2022 conference.
- Have a discussion with your team about whether you identify as more extroverted or introverted, more task-focused or people-focused, and talk about how those differences are strengths in your team. Personally, I am a people-focused extrovert, who enjoys energizing others and encouraging them to get out there on both the literal and metaphorical dance floor. I see the value in reserved, people-focused colleagues for their tendency to lend an ear or give a hug when things don’t go as planned. Extroverted task-focused people help me to drive a project and meet deadlines, while reserved task-focused people help me to “get it right” and make sure the job is done well.
- Integrate 2-3 minutes of non-work, non-weather small talk into every meeting to build your team relationships and discover what you have in common.
- Tell your story in team meetings— and not just the highlight reel. Be vulnerable. For example, “One thing about me that you can’t necessarily tell by looking at me is _____. It’s important for me to tell you because ______.”
- Reflect on yourself as a professional. Do I model work-life boundaries? (e.g. do I let others know when I am taking a work break to go for a walk/workout at the gym, so they feel comfortable doing that too?)
- Schedule regular check-in meetings to learn how we can improve our community/culture.
- During these meetings, celebrate the messenger when they bring issues/mistakes to our attention. Continue to celebrate the messenger throughout the year.
- For senior leaders, am I the last that speaks (so I don’t unintentionally influence conversations)?
Developing a Sense of Purpose
- Work on crafting your own individual purpose statement: “I do (verb) for (audience) so that _____.”
- My (working) example: “I develop professional development programming for public diplomacy and international exchange professionals so that they can strengthen their organizations and programming, and therefore strengthen trust between their communities and communities abroad.”
- Pin your purpose statement to your desk, or wherever you will see it as you work. Before starting a project, go back to your purpose statement. If the task doesn’t align with the purpose you’ve committed to, reconsider if it’s worth doing.
Communicating and Providing Resources
- Start recording how much time it takes you to complete tasks, and develop more realistic timelines for completing projects, so you can communicate your workload and set better boundaries.
- When introducing an idea for a new project, be clear about the level of quality expected. Can it just be a draft/pilot form? Help employees that have perfectionist tendencies to realize that oftentimes “good” is “good enough.” Commit to revisiting and making improved versions down the line, should that new project be worth continuing.
- Try documenting your processes and procedures in a centralized location that all team members can access easily.
- If you haven’t already, start writing down and documenting your processes. It doesn’t have to be perfect and thorough as a first draft. If you create your processes in a shared document (e.g. Sharepoint or Google Drive), you can continuously add to or modify your tasks and steps.
- This is helpful not only for educating new staff in your organization’s processes/procedures or supporting staff transitioning into new roles, but also if someone in your team is out sick or on leave, the rest of the team knows where to go to pick up where you left off.
- Consider instituting “Golden Time” on your calendars for personal projects and having colleagues respect that time by not booking meetings or projects during that time.
- Reflect— am I modeling the behaviors I want to see in my organization? For example:
- Am I being vulnerable and sharing when there is an area that I am not an expert in?
- Do I admit mistakes, show how I am growing professionally, and set aside time for learning?
- Plan— how will I encourage and inspire others to take time for their professional development?
- Consider integrating professional development planning into a quarterly check-in. In these check-ins, determine individual goals for development, identify resources that can support that growth, and determine a timeline to obtain those skills.
Already doing all these things? Check out these resources for more ideas.
- Book: Justin Reinert, Creating Belonging
- Podcast: Jay Shetty, On Purpose
- Free eBook: David Kelly, Nine Core Behavioral Traits Learning Leaders Should Cultivate