5 Simple Tips to Extinguish Employee Burn-Out

It happens to everyone, even your brightest most valuable players will hit burn out every once and awhile.

Although we would love to be the everlasting support and cheerleaders to every member of our team twenty four hours a day, seven days a week there will be times when our employee’s motivation may fall through the cracks beyond our observations.  It can happen quite suddenly and without warning, it can also sneak up slowly a five minute tardy here, a few delinquent mistakes there before you realize that your star employee is now your problem employee.

Many times in areas of a profession with as high turnover as retail it is natural to sigh, “well it was a good run,” as you hand over their termination notice, or just hold out until they finally walk out on the job.

Despite this seemingly simple solution for yourself, the costs are great to the ex-employee, the team, and the company you represent.  Turnover is time-consuming, the days that could be spent on the sales floor are instead being spent in the office reviewing applicants, making preliminary calls, conducting interviews, and training an inexperienced employee from scratch.  This is the given, not to mention that time that would need to be invested to nurture your staffs’ motivation and faith in their own job security.  And that star employee is casted out with a bitter chip on their shoulder, rather than fulfilled with an opportunity for growth and transformation.

All of this when a simple hour tending the problem that is causing the burn-out in the first place would eliminate the potential epidemic as opposed to postponing the inevitable by just dismissing the symptoms.

Do they understand their potential?

Many times burn out can hit when the glass ceiling becomes crystal clear.  “There’s nowhere to go in this job, I’m at a dead end.”  Make an effort to remind your employees of all the growth potential they have within this job.

In one staff I had an employee I was building a portfolio for so she could apply for a graphics job at corporate when she was done, while I had another in a Manager in Training Program for nearly a year until she took over my store.  Ask your employees regularly what their long term goals are, and be an active participant in getting them there.

Have you communicated your expectations effectively?

On each employee’s second day I offered them a list of 10 very directly stated expectations I held for my store location.  They were to keep these at the front of their daily communication binders to serve as a continuous reminder.  But the communication of expectations should not stop there, but be an ongoing experience in the workplace.

Try holding a one-on-one with each staff member, try varied methods of communicating their progress and how they exceeded or were falling behind expectations.  Try tools such as personalized sales charts, evaluations, and self-evaluations.

Have you regularly communicated your appreciation?

I have heard it said, though I have found it a common feeling across most careers, but that management is the most underappreciated job.  We feel so consumed with our under appreciation that sometimes we do not realize that we are not spreading our own appreciation down on our staff.

Although parties and pizza are a nice fun way to lighten the mood, they are not necessary, a simple “thank you” or individualized compliment acknowledging your employees’ efforts is enough.

Have you reexamined their goals?

Sometimes it can seem like the concept of goals and ideas are shoved down our throats in today’s driven and overeducated society.  But they are the necessary motivator to  get out of bed in the morning, much less feel any sort of drive towards achievement.  Your employee’s personal goals should be as high of a priority as the company’s sales goals, this communicates not only that you care but can help better understand what motivates that individual.

So ask your employees:

  • What are they working towards?
  • Do they have three short term goals, and one long term?  If not have them sit and write these down so you can keep them on file.

Once the goals are communicated work out a game plan with them, what dates will each step towards the goals be completed, check in monthly at the one-on-one on the progress.  There is nothing more motivating than a purpose.

Have you considered your own attitude?

This is the most overlooked of these five, but stress on a leader is strong, and sometimes that stress, though not communicated directly, can be passed on to our staff.     As a leader you must be the reliable show of positivity and faith.   Negativity is a nasty virus that can spread with one simple off handed comment.   Be mindful of your vernacular, your body language, and your over all expressions.

Spend some time looking in the mirror.  Make some eye contact, try to mimic your day to day expressions, do they give off the steer clear vibe you want to avoid?  Practice a warm smile, and practice mindfulness throughout your day.


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