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Preventing Burnout in Today’s “Phygital” Programming

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preventing burnout

Burnout: Learn the stats, common causes and tactics to begin preventing burnout today.

In Dallas, our COVID-related closure wasn’t nearly as long as in many cities. While that offered additional opportunities for us to creatively serve our customers during this time, it also meant we have lived simultaneously for months in this hybrid world carrying out two very different business models – in-person and virtual opportunities, which some reference as phygital – managing the full spectrum of emotions from our customers and doing more with less.

As we start to see pre-COVID numbers return in both check-ins and profit centers, it is becoming increasingly apparent, living in the physical and digital worlds is not sustainable for many teams and we must be prepared in preventing burnout within our organization’s talent pool. No matter where your company is on the spectrum of reopening during the pandemic, you must be aware of the future demands these two worlds bring, the emotions your teams are coping with due to additional workload and the weight that impact can have on even the fittest of teams.

In 2019 the World Health Organization included burnout in its International Classification of Disease acknowledging this is not just an employee problem. It is an organizational problem requiring an organizational plan that doesn’t just proclaim self-care, time management and well-being for teams expressing concern or exhibiting signs of burnout.

Common Causes of Burnout

  1. Unsustainable workload.
  2. Perceived lack of control.
  3. Insufficient rewards for efforts.
  4. Lack of a supportive community.
  5. Perceived lack of fair treatment.
  6. Mismatched values and skills.

Knowing the Stats

Gallup research has shown burnout increases when an employee’s workweek averages more than 50 hours.  

Harvard Business Review research showed:

  • 56% said job demands had increased during 2020.
  • 62% were struggling to manage their workload.
  • 65% experienced burnout “often or always.”
  • 89% reported their work life getting worse.
  • Millennials cite highest levels of burnout due to lower seniority and increased financial stresses in the beginning of their careers — delaying milestones including marriage, home ownership and starting a family.
  • Single individuals feel their boundaries are less respected because they can’t stop “to take care of their family.”

Preventing Burnout

Seek honest feedback from your team. Ask these questions to understand the current landscape from your team’s perspective.

  • Do we silently or outwardly reward working longer hours?
  • Can you discuss your workload openly with your supervisor?
  • When was the last time your workload was adjusted? (added to or alleviated)
  • Have you been provided with a clear understanding of the priority placed on projects?
  • What are other emotions you carry into work now due to outside stressors?
  • When was the last time you felt a strong sense of purpose tied to a project you worked on?
  • Describe a time when your work environment supported your ability to successfully produce a desired outcome.

Acknowledge circumstances. Separate your emotions from the data. Know these are opinions you valued enough to ask for. Don’t just ask for feedback; share your discoveries with your teams. Identify your biggest risks and focus on building a plan to address them.

Create a prevention plan. You don’t have to have all of the answers. If appropriate, ask your team for feedback on ways to combat the main topics you want to address. With any plan put in place, it is important to communicate the purpose to help with the area of focus identified directly from their feedback. Make your purpose personal to them.

Tactics to Help Combat Burnout Culture

  • Eliminate unnecessary meetings. Replace them with weekly email updates followed by quick discussions. Protect one day per-week as meeting-free for your entire team.
  • Feeling overextended. Create project priority lists to help direct focus.
  • Identify resources needed. Focus on identifying if projects are getting off track and allocate extra resources to help.
  • Presenting success stories. Acknowledge the team’s work and tie the results back to the shared mission.
  • Check in regularly with the purpose of active listening. Ask for feedback on resources available, environment-led success and evaluate factors which could be impacting their effectiveness.
  • Determine next steps. Measure and analyze which services are expected by customers to continue and therefore, will require more resources to maintain.

Although our industry is geared toward providing an outlet for others facing occupational burnout, we must pay attention to the signs and ensure we don’t become the source of it for our own teams. The new normal we keep shouting from the rooftop — this hybrid world of digital and in-person here to stay — might require us to reframe our mindset that during the pandemic was the most stressful time for our teams.

Keep in mind new product and service offerings also require modifications to one’s pre-pandemic operational plans. The strongest leaders will seek feedback, search for signs and ensure the past year and future hybrid model business plan is created to ensure the workload is sustainable and burnout is not accelerated.  

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Meredith Rosson

Meredith Rosson is the assistant general manager of Cooper Fitness Center, a 50,000-square-foot lifestyle, wellness and fitness facility located in Dallas, Texas. Meredith studied Exercise Physiology at University of Texas at Austin and has held integral leadership roles that have developed success in more than 13 departments since 2006. She is a member of The Women in Fitness Association and a former personal trainer. She can be reached at: mrosson@cooperfitnesscenter.com.

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