How to prioritize your team’s mental health to avoid burnout

mental health

How to prioritize your team’s mental health to avoid burnout

1000 667 Brenda Akinyi

Remote work has dominated a big part of our lives this year. Despite some real benefits we have come to enjoy working from home (no more formal wear for work, quicker walk to the kitchen, no commute), many people are struggling with their mental health and how to turn work off at the end of the day, which is leading to increased levels of stress and work-from-home burnout.

While normally, it’s largely up to employees to figure out their vacation time schedules while still ensuring they meet their client’s expectations, it’s now more important than ever for company leaders to step in to help their teams achieve a better work-life balance.

Based on our own experiences and tips from leaders in the market, we have put together a few strategies for how you and other leaders in your company can help fight work-from-home burnout.  Which strategy will work best for your team?  Are there others you’ve tried out?  Let us know!

You have a leadership that already sees the importance of work-life balance and your team hasn’t been taking much time off

At Shortlist, one of our values is being a whole person, all members of the team are encouraged to be more than your work. To ensure that we uphold this value especially in these challenging times, we had our first-ever company-wide mental health vacation.

Now that sounds like a lot to take in and nearly impossible, but with proper coordination, planning a company-wide vacation does not have to be an uphill task.  Here are a few tips we incorporated to make ours a success:

  • Check-ins with the team

Understand where everyone is mentally, emotionally and physically. You might have your HR take charge of all matters employee welfare or you might have respective team leaders do a pulse check to see what the general sentiment is around the team. Employees generally talk to each other and having one on one conversations can help identify what each individual needs. You may not meet everyone at a personal level but having a general consensus can help the team manage their schedules and prioritize their mental health.

  • Giving appropriate timelines and help your team do vacation the right way

Once you identify what the team needs at this time and decide to go down this route, give advance notice to the team to help your team plan and ensure they have a solid break during this time. Take into consideration the teams within your organization. Both internal facing and external facing as each would require a different timeline. Keep in mind that it’s easier for some people to plan out their vacation time from start to finish. Some people however may need a little help in ensuring they shut off work completely or at least as much as possible. One way we are doing this is by crowdsourcing holiday activities from the rest of the team. Anything from binge-worthy TV shows, entertaining youtube channels to subscribe to, book recommendations, workout programs, online courses and more.

P.S you’ll have some interesting topics to talk about when you all get back 😀

Your team needs a recharge and you’re looking for something that goes beyond a “team game night” or “Zoom Happy Hours”

  • Encouraging more activities that help your team get better:

Now might be a great time to encourage your team to focus on things that will help them in the future. Invest in or partner with an e-learning platform where they can take courses or work on projects that help them hone their skills. You can also crowdsource ideas from the larger group to encourage peer learning. You can also run virtual team activities or share any that individuals can do personally to help them disconnect.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Virtual games
  • 1:1 / Group coaching sessions
  • Podcast and book recommendations
  • Career assessments through one on one check-ins
  • Sending regular appreciation notes to your team for the work they do
  • Organizing a “biggest loser” program  – Not just on weight loss but on ditching bad habits as well
  • Leading some deskercise – People are sitting down for longer hours now. Get them moving while at it
  • Sending out Wellness Wednesday tips
  • Social media detoxing
  • Making an “A-Z wellness tool kit” for your team

You’re a leader who’s busy, but you do really care about your team’s mental health. You want them to know (but don’t know where or how to start)…

  • Having more shared experiences to encourage vulnerability

Your team will open up more if they see you take the initiative. When you share your own challenges and how you are coping with them, you help them feel that they are not alone. They also feel empowered to talk about their mental health and how you can help them.

  • Walking the talk

It’s one thing as a leader to tell your team to prioritize their mental health but when they don’t see you you turn the switch off it can be difficult for them to follow through. For instance, you may find it easier to respond to emails much later in the evenings. While you may not be expecting your team members to respond at the same time, it creates some internal pressure within the team to follow suit. Be mindful of this and overcommunicate on expectations. Set personal boundaries, and enforce them. Your team will often follow your lead.

At the end of the day, the difference between operating at full capacity and doing just okay is knowing when to take breaks.