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John, Tracy, and Members of the Marketing Team At Fair
January 13, 2022

How to Combat Team Burnout

At the beginning of each year, we bring all our employees together for an all-staff meeting. It’s important to regather after the holidays and remind us of our vision and purpose as we move forward into the new year.

This year as I’ve been preparing for this time with our staff, I am noticing a company-wide trend. Our employees are tired.

Are you noticing this at your company too?

Often when we start a new year, people are excited and energized to get going. But this year, I recognize the toll the last couple of years has taken on us all. I don’t have to remind you – we’ve all been through the pandemic and economic turmoil together, and I think people are weary.

As leaders, it’s our responsibility to seek God, be encouraged, and then pass that encouragement along to others.

 

Leadership lesson from the Bible:

This isn’t the first time a group of people has felt burnout. We can always look to the Bible for leadership examples and solutions to our challenges.

Take Nehemiah and Ezra in the book of Nehemiah, for instance. The Israelites had just returned from exile. Their city was in ruins, and there was a lot of work to do. On top of all that, emotions were running high after the trauma of the exile. So as Ezra spoke the Word of God over the people, the people wept and mourned. I love Nehemiah’s response:

 

“Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this!

For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God…

Go and celebrate…Don’t be dejected and sad,

for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

Nehemiah 8:9-10 NLT

 

When the people felt beaten down, Nehemiah reminded them to find their joy and strength in God. It’s important to remember that our happiness is directly related to our focus. If I focus on circumstances, it can be discouraging. However, when I spend time in God’s Word and focus on His character and goodness, I find the “...peace of God, which surpasses all understanding…” (Phil 4:7).

Getting my own perspective right is one thing, but how do I help my team do the same?

Here’s what I know: Wherever you go, there you are.

We can try to run away from challenges, but we’ll often just find ourselves frustrated again. If we don’t take the time to correctly (based on God’s Word and character) adjust our own hearts, minds, and attitudes first, we will carry negativity and the wrong perspective wherever we go. As a result, we’ll continue to be discontent, and our relationships will suffer.

I’ve seen this in marriages when people want to get divorced because they’re miserable. Unfortunately, they’ll often continue to be miserable whether they remarry or not. The same is true in the workplace. Misery and frustration are internal issues rarely solved by changing external circumstances. It all starts with our perspective, attitude, and condition of our hearts.

We know we can do this for ourselves. So then, how do we pass this along to others? It’s not as simple as telling someone to be grateful. God is the source of our strength, and we need to set an example for others who don’t know Him. When we’re intentional, we can lead others toward the joy that is everlasting and, ultimately, to Him. Here’s what’s been on my mind.

If the joy of the Lord is our strength, as it says in the Nehemiah, how do we find joy when we’re discouraged? When we look at the context of this verse, we can recognize that the people were mourning because they realized how they had neglected God’s Word during their exile. They were discouraged because they realized what they had been missing. There are keys to joy that have been laid out for us.

 

Keys to Joy

  1. Read God’s Word. Read His Word to gain His perspective, align your thoughts with Him, and see the truth of who He says you are: His child.
  2. Connect with God through prayer. As we read His Word and then process with Him, He renews and refreshes us. He can change the way we see and think about our circumstances.
  3. Then, we can share what we have with others. In Neh 8:12, we can see that after the people were renewed and refreshed, they celebrated and shared with others.

Once we have been renewed ourselves, we will be better equipped to lead others around us to find joy.

 

Be a true servant-leader

During hard times, we get to really serve our people well. They may be worn out, but we can represent Jesus for them. We can offer hope, light, and practical solutions and help.

A huge part of being a servant leader is supporting your team and cultivating their talents. Our employees will be most fulfilled when they are motivated and succeed in their work. Everyone wants to wake up happy to go to work, thankful they get to be a part of what God is doing through the company.

 

Be intuitive

Recently, we had an employee meet with his leader to give his notice of termination. The leader took the time to process with the employee and asked what the issues were. The employee’s response was, “My computer isn’t working.” Now, we know this is an easy fix. The problem is that the computer isn’t the problem. There could be a variety of actual issues that need our attention.

Misery and frustration are internal issues rarely solved by changing external circumstances in the workplace. So often, what an employee claims is the cause of their burn-out barely scratches the surface of the challenges they’re facing.

I’m thankful for leaders who will take the time to dig deeper and try to get to the REAL issues causing a person's troubles and frustrations.

 

  • What are the challenges they’re having?
  • Is it an issue of responsibilities (too much or not enough)?
  • Are there personality conflicts?
  • Is it a work/home-life balance issue?
  • Is it just boredom, and they want to expand their skills?

What solutions will address the team member’s concerns and not cause problems for the company or their co-workers? Things like at-home work options, paid skill development, and inclusion in other projects or teams can go a long way toward helping an employee come out of discouragement.

 

You can’t change anyone’s attitude.

In the end, the most you can do for someone is show that you care about them and offer solutions to their problems. The rest is up to them.

Trust that God will lead them to His will and be okay with wherever the chips fall.

I am processing and learning this along with you. As we know, we are always learning and growing in Christ. My hope is that He continues to reveal more and more to each of us how His joy can be our strength.

 

What are your thoughts?

Is the environment different at your place of business this new year compared to the past? What things have you tried to help boost morale?

 

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