the shape of leadership

Help Your Team Members Avoid Burnout

Five ways to cultivate a healthier environment

Kent Ingle on July 16, 2021

Have you ever felt overwhelmed in ministry? No matter how much you accomplish, you worry about getting through a stack of uncompleted projects. The sense of not being able to attain your goals can negatively affect your work and relationships.

Over time, anxiety and stress can lead to burnout. In a recent poll from career platform, 95% of respondents said they were thinking about finding a new position, and 92% were considering transitioning to a different line of work altogether. The main reason was burnout.

The ongoing stressors from the past year have compounded to a point that many are looking to call it quits. The well-being of your team shouldn’t be an afterthought. It has to be a priority. Here are five ways to help team members avoid burnout:

1. Prioritize breaks. To avoid overextending your team members, encourage them to take breaks at work and to use vacation days. A recent study in Iceland found that a four-day work week increased productivity and workers’ well-being. You don’t necessarily need to shorten your work week, but there could be other ways to give team members a much-needed respite.

God demonstrated the principle of rest in the beginning. Genesis 2:3 says, “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

Similarly, God established a Sabbath for His people: “Six days you shall labor and do all of your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:9–10).

The lesson for us is that God designed us to take breaks.

2. Integrate well-being into your team culture. Your actions, attitude and responses will set the tone for others. Too often, our culture praises individuals who work 24/7 and put work ahead of their personal lives. If you want to be at the forefront of creating positive change, you have to demonstrate what a healthy work-life balance looks like.

As your team members experience moments of anxiety, offer encouragement and prayer. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Taking time to build up your team members can help foster a healthy work culture.

God demonstrated
the principle of rest
in the beginning.

3. Employ empathy. An aspect of leadership that has been crucial over the past year is empathy. Everyone has experienced an increase in stress or anxiety — whether personally or professionally. Although your workload may have doubled, it’s likely theirs did too. Ask team members how they feel about their tasks and what you can do to help them.

Now is the perfect time to extend more patience and understanding. Colossians 3:12 says, “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Take a moment to understand what circumstances your team members may be going through and what you can do to ensure they fulfill their responsibilities without burning out.

4. Monitor schedules and workload. Know what your team is working on and what projects need to be completed immediately. This doesn’t mean you need to micromanage everything they do. Rather, it helps you gauge how to establish realistic goals. Let staff members work at their own pace, and celebrate every project that is completed.

Sometimes we can be so focused on the future that we lose sight of what is going on in the present. Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Although it’s important to plan for the future, make sure it doesn’t take precedence over the present.

5. Be attentive to each individual. Every member of your team is unique. Your staff probably includes people from different generations and backgrounds. Recognize that someone from Generation Z will likely have different priorities and perceptions of their work environment than a Baby Boomer.

Get to know each team member personally. Find out what helps each individual stay focused, inspired and motivated.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” In every aspect of our lives, we are working to further God’s kingdom. That includes stewarding the people He has placed in our lives.

If you’ve been in leadership long enough, you’ve probably seen talented individuals leave because of burnout. Instead of waiting to recognize triggers, be proactive about cultivating a healthy and positive environment.

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