Motivation and Retention

Conquer Burnout With These 5 Ways to Cultivate Perseverance in Your Employees

Late nights and stressful deadlines are part of startup life but you don't have to sacrifice mental and physical health to succeed.
Conquer Burnout With These 5 Ways to Cultivate Perseverance in Your Employees
Image credit: Tom Werner | Getty Images
Guest Writer
President of Aperio Consulting Group
7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Despite all of their fame, fast-paced working styles and incredible perks, tech companies are struggling to keep employees happy. Even Facebook is now battling a reputation associated with high turnover rates and low morale following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw the profile data of 87 million users illegally pinched.

The scandal has provoked several Facebook employees to speak out about their lack of faith in the organization, but it’s more than just security concerns that have made workers think about moving on.

Burnout is a growing problem in the U.S. workplace. Common workplace conditions -- long hours, high pressure and constant connectivity -- have deteriorated individuals' mental and physical responses to stress. Findings by anonymous message board Blind show that an astonishing 57 percent of tech employees are currently suffering from symptoms of burnout.

The burnout crisis will only accelerate if leaders across all industries don’t make changes to their debilitating work environments. Now, more than ever, it's vital to prioritize the importance of employee perseverance.

Related: Are You More Resilient Than Average? 5 Signs You Are.

Confront burnout now

The emotionally draining work landscape has an inevitable negative effect on businesses. In volatile market conditions, CEOs face pressures from many directions, including the expectation to adapt to shifting workplace trends and to retain talent in crowded arenas. As a result, CEO burnout is just as real as employee burnout.

Leaders must slow down their thinking to get unstuck from the emotional autopilot state that high-stress environments produce. They also need to learn how to seek out and cultivate perseverance within their employees. This means finding qualities that are associated with higher resilience, such as mental agility, a growth mindset and a sense of community.

However, such qualities don’t naturally make themselves known. CEOs can’t simply sift through job applicants and filter out those who have a growth mindset or an advanced ability to make work friends. Instead, leaders must be willing to change their organizations in order to nurture employees so they’re better able to stand tall and push forward when work gets tough.

Related: 5 Signs Your Employees Are Nearing Burnout

Utilize the following strategies to foster resilience among your employees and, in turn, power through the crippling consequences of burnout. Here are five strategies that strengthen employee perseverance.

1. Celebrate big and small wins.

In environments with high burnout rates, leaders often value achievement over hard work. This creates a scenario in which employees exhaust their brains day and night and still feel unappreciated.

To avoid this, give praise when team members display positive qualities and work ethic, such as proactive thinking, problem-solving and collaboration. Even the smallest recognition can motivate individuals to find the value in committing to your company.

Leaders who take extra care to show appreciation for their employees can build stronger relationships both internally and among customers. Take Southwest Airlines, for example. It realized that acknowledging employees was vital to the quality of its customer service and overall cohesion as a team. So Southwest launched the “Kick Tail” program, which makes a big scene when employees meet goals and contribute to the company’s collaborative culture.

2. Leave no question unanswered.

Employees need to understand that the startup environment is riddled with failure -- it’s the resilient and resourceful who will succeed. As a startup leader or CEO, it's your job to provide this perspective by setting clear expectations. Elucidate goals and the steps needed in order to achieve them, and address practical concerns, such as holiday and break allowance.

Without out a doubt, the next wave of startup employees will demand this kind of transparency from their leaders. In fact, according to a study by IBM, 42 percent of Generation X employees already describe the perfect boss as someone who clearly defines goals and expectations.

3. Allow time to recover from failure.

Everyone in the startup world will face failure, but those who effectively avoid burnout understand how to respond to failure with self-compassion. For example, when Arianna Huffington was working on publishing her second book, she was rejected 36 times by publishers. Yet she saw these roadblocks as “steppingstones to success.”

As a leader who is eager to power through setbacks, remember that it’s crucial to take time after a failure to assess what happened and to recover physically and mentally. After a major disappointment, encourage employees to take a 10-minute break to go for a walk, read a book or simply rest their eyes in order to detach from the situation. Also, understand that everyone processes failure differently, so how you handle the situation isn't representative of your entire team. By respecting failure through validating its emotional and physical tolls, you are better able to learn and improve.

Related: Why Embracing Failure Is Good for Business

4. Map out success.

In a high-pressure environment, goals can save a team from disorganization. Setting long-term goals keeps current tasks in perspective and allows you to feel the reward of making progress. According to a Gallup study, 30 percent of employees surveyed agreed that their managers involved them in the company’s goal-setting process, and as a result, they felt more engaged at work.

Take the time to set quantitative business goals and personal goals, such as community-building sessions and culture events. Interestingly, the brain struggles in processing and visualizing conceptual items, such as goals. For example, recalling what you ate for lunch yesterday is easier than picturing what your life will look like in six months. In turn, the more effort you put into visualizing next steps through mapping exercises, the more likely you are to achieve those goals. Ensure employees feel seen and heard by checking in on their personal goals and helping them plan actionable steps for how you both will invest in their well-being now and into the future.

5. Don't take good days for granted.

If employees feel supported and energized on a good day, they’ll be more likely to maintain high morale during bad ones. When business is going well, facilitate time to work on individual development plans, whether that means giving employees a longer lunch break to flesh out personal next steps or a work-from-home day to recenter and evaluate their progress.

Costco is a great example of a brand that works hard to support employees no matter what the bottom line looks like. The company is known for paying its team members a proper living wage plus benefits that look after their well-being. As one employee said, “Costco believes that employees are the most important assets in the company.”

In most circumstances, you can't avoid the late nights and stressful deadlines of startup life. However, you don’t have to sacrifice the mental and physical health of you and your employees to succeed. Take the above strategies to heart, and you will soon help grow and discover the resilience your team members have within them.

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