What is burnout? It’s a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion that seems overwhelming and insurmountable. It decreases productivity, saps energy and reduces motivation. Workers who burn out leave the job. We’ve explored the high costs of worker turnover in a previous post and recognize the value of retaining workers.
So what can supervisors do to help their workers avoid burnout? They can teach workers to build resiliency. How? By being proactive and working together to prevent rather than trying to address burnout when it’s too late
Here are 10 strategies that supervisors can teach workers and help them implement:
1. Set reasonable expectations
Goals and plans for each intervention vary widely. Be a resource for workers for case planning. Do the goals reflect the highest priorities for the family situation? Can they be achieved in the time available? Does the worker have the resources needed to help the family achieve these goals?
2. Make a plan
Each person has their own way of dealing with long hours, hard work and stress. Talk with workers about what works for them. Make a plan with the worker for self-care that is individualized and specific. What does the worker do to restore their energy? What activities can they incorporate into their day that makes things easier? What support do they want and need? Talking about it in advance and scheduling time and activities into the worker’s routine will avoid the slow leak of energy that leads to burnout.
3. Don’t do it alone
Ensure that your workers know that they are part of a team. Encourage them to use team members for creative intervention ideas, support in hard situations and back-up. Remind them this is a team effort. Encourage them to use you as a resource as often as they need.
4. Check in often
It isn’t enough to tell the worker to call if they want. Set times that you want them to check in with you. It will vary based on the dynamics of the cases they have. Make it part of the routine, not just something for emergencies.
5. Ask for help
Set the expectation that asking for help is a good thing, not an indication that the worker can’t handle things alone.
6. Healthy thinking
Fatigue and stress can lead to “ain’t it awful” thinking and complaining. Workers need an opportunity to vent and need you to be there to listen and help them reframe. It may also be helpful to strategize with workers ways to make productive changes in their thinking and their actions that will help them feel better and less stressed.
7. Change gears
Encourage workers to take down time. Doing something completely different from their work routine can give them the physical, emotional and mental break they need to restore their energy. A 20 minute nap in the car, reading a novel during lunch, taking a walk in a local park, doing 5 minutes of yoga stretches, watching a funny YouTube video can restore energy and give fresh perspective. Workers may need support in taking time for themselves during the day.
8. Take a break
Vacation is a key element in staying emotionally, mentally and physically strong. It’s important to get away whether it’s a trip, a long weekend at home, or doing something fun with friends and family. Remind workers that taking time to restore is part of the job too.
9. Catch things early
Make sure workers know their personal early warning signs of stress and fatigue. Talk to workers in advance about the indicators that let them know it’s time to ask for help, take a break or just let you know how they are feeling.
10. Celebrate success
IFPS workers make a difference in the lives of families and contribute to strong communities. Find ways to acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments—both big and small. Remind workers to pat themselves on the back for their successes.
Posted by Peg Marckworth