The Great Resignation: How To Combat Burnout In The Workplace Right Now

Contributing writer By Tia Graham
Contributing writer
Tia Graham is a happiness expert and founder of Arrive At Happy. She graduated from The University of Hawaii and has a certificate in Happiness Studies and a Certificate in Teaching Happiness from Harvard’s Tal Ben-Shahar and The Happiness Studies Academy. She works with companies such as Goldman Sachs, Hilton Hotels and Kashi.
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There has been a waterfall of research, press, education, and information about the state of people's mental health in the current climate. Celebrities, politicians, and corporate leaders are all communicating about the urgency and necessity of focusing on how people are doing and supporting employees at all levels. There is also consistent news about burnout, anxiety, stress, overwork, and overwhelm. 

It's something that people are calling "The Great Resignation": A Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% of workers were considering quitting or changing professions this year. If you are an executive, manager, or supervisor, it is imperative that you prioritize your mental health and happiness while working but also confirm that your team is doing well. 

Here are four strategies to help you keep a true pulse on how each person is to prevent unwanted turnover:

1. Measure consistently.

Depending on the size of your team, there are a variety of methods that you can use to measure your team's overall well-being and happiness while working. For a smaller team, this may be weekly or bi-monthly one-on-one meetings with each person. During these meetings, you want to utilize whole-being listening, open-ended questions that start with what and how, and vulnerability. When your team member feels that you truly care and that you are being authentic, they will more likely open up to you and share how they are truly feeling. 

For larger teams with multiple layers, executives must use technology to measure on an ongoing basis. There are fantastic employee well-being measurement tools available that are based on scientific research such as FridayPulse, Culture Amp, and heartcount. The old method of measuring how employees are doing on an annual survey does not give organizations the data they need in this work environment.

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2. Observe communication.

Are you truly aware of how your team members speak and write to each other, and to internal and external stakeholders? Communication is one of the most powerful tools that leaders have to get a pulse on how their team is doing. Is your team commenting on one another's strengths and accomplishments and acknowledging one another's contributions? Are your team members complaining on a regular basis and being negative about what is happening inside the organization? Are you getting feedback from other leaders about how your team is communicating? 

In his book Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance, Kim Cameron talks about the power and effects of positive communication on organization success. A study of 60 top-management teams who were involved in strategies, budgets, and problem-solving demonstrated the effects that positive management and communication can have on the organization: "The results of the research revealed that in high-performing organizations, the ratio of positive to negative statements in the top-management teams was 5.6 to 1." In contrast, the low-performing organizations had a ratio of 0.36 to 1. Cameron writes, "Positive statements are those that express appreciation, support, helpfulness, approval, or compliments." 

3. Have honest team meetings.

There are leaders and managers that are unable to hear difficult feedback and create a culture where direct reports are not honest with their managers. You do not want to be one of those leaders! Your weekly or monthly team meetings must be a place where everyone can speak their mind and share their honest thoughts in a healthy and productive manner. The last thing you want is everyone talking about you and problems all together but you have no clue. 

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You can ask questions ahead of time such as, "Where do you feel our team has opportunities to grow?" and "What would you like to see changed?" along with many others. Give people time to digest questions like these and come prepared with thoughts and ideas. You must demonstrate that you are comfortable with receiving constructive feedback and create a very safe space for your team. There are usually more talkative team members in a group, so ensure that each person is given time and space to communicate and share. 

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4. Notice their productivity and physical health.

For many organizations, productivity is connected to the hours worked in a week plus the output or productivity of the individuals. My challenge to you is not to focus on the hours worked but to truly connect with each person's results. Based on their experience, resources, years in the industry, etc., how is their productivity? Someone who is happy and engaged will be super productive! 

Oxford University's Business School has proved that happy workplaces are 13% more productive. Again, look at their work and output—not the hours that they are in the office, on Slack, or answering emails. Your team members' physical health is also a key indicator of how they are doing. The mind and body are always connected, and if they are unhappy, feeling chronic stress, overwhelmed, or anxious, their body will be affected. Notice how many sick days they are taking and whether they have any physical ailments. A happy employee is not going to be calling out on a regular basis.

The takeaway. 

Yes, we are facing a global resignation, but we are also seeing a global hiring! My intention for you is to truly know and understand how each person on your team is doing so that each individual and your organization can reach their full potential. For more ideas, check my upcoming book, Be a Happy Leader: Stop Feeling Overwhelmed, Thrive Personally, and Achieve Killer Business Results.

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