When we talk about burnout from a leadership perspective, it’s often in terms of how to recognize and treat it, both of which are highly important. However, what we want to focus on today takes a more proactive approach to prevent burnout.

Especially in times of stress, whether that stress is associated with a work intiative that requires extreme focus and long days for a short period of time or something more substantial, such as corporate layoffs or reorganization, its important to take steps to build resilence so the stress doesn’t turn into burnout.

Gary R. Simonds, MD, MHCDS, and Wayne M. Sotile, PhD—authors of Thriving in Healthcare: A Positive Approach to Reclaim Balance and Avoid Burnout in Your Busy Life recommend that leaders use the WIRED approach to improve communication, engagement and resilence:

W – Focus on the wellness of your people

Provide the support they need to succeed in their jobs. Encourage them to use PTO and prioritize their physical and mental health, which could be as simple as encouraging them to take a mental health day. Check in regularly to make sure that they are managing their workload effectively, and if they indicate they are struggling, provide resources to help. Showing you care about them as people, and not just their work output, is instrumental in preventing burnout.

I – Solicit their input

Regularly ask what do they need to more effectively do their jobs? Ask them how the organization can operate more efficiently, boost productivy, improve quality and provide better customer support. It shows you respect their opinions and offers them a sense of control, both of which can help bolster resilience.

R – Recognize their contributions

Few things energize people more than hearing a genuine “Thank you.” Spread the gratitude and praise around to boost their confidence, morale and engagement. Help them to feel proud of their own accomplishments and they are more like to feel proud to be a member of you organization. All of that can help them weather rough patches.

E – Teach people how to be efficient

So much stress occurs because people waste time and enegery on bad process or unimportant tasks, and it steals the time they should be using on the really important stuff. First, assess your processes to make sure you are operating as efficiently as possible. And because people tend to enjoy doing what they are good at doing, make sure they’ve received sufficient training and coaching so they can succeed in their roles.

D – Heighten dialogue between leaders and the troops

Doing so helps to curb “institutional silence.” This silence is a major cause of anxiety and is chronic problem in organizations of types and sizes. Even in the best of times—but especially during stressful times, it can be harmful.

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