COVID has generated a storm of issues for business owners. Many CEOs believe employee engagement and productivity has declined during the pandemic. Meanwhile, reports of employee stress and burnout have increased. Curiously, researchers are now learning that solutions to these issues may be counter-intuitive – boosting productivity can actually prevent burnout.

COVID has also contributed to the “Great Resignation.” People are more likely than ever to consider leaving their current job in favor of something new. Across the U.S., business owners are having an extremely hard time attracting and retaining talent. In the current environment, building and managing a high-performing team has never been more difficult. 

    Burnout is a real problem

    The sense of being overworked and stressed over a long period of time can cause a physical or mental collapse, stopping productivity in its tracks.

    CNBC recently sat down with Jennifer Moss, author of “The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It.” The article indicated that while burnout isn’t considered a mental health illness, it’s a mental health issue and needs to be treated as such in the workplace environment. During her interview, Moss shared that by asking employees more specific questions to better assess how they’re doing will translate into their performance on the job. She recommends incorporating simple questions into one-to-one meetings, such as:

      • How was this week?
      • What were the highs and lows?
      • What can I do for you next week to make things easier?
      • What can we do for each other?

    Moss states “these questions will make employees feel more connected to their work and help leaders to better understand what is needed for employees to be more productive, thus reducing burnout among the work force.”

    Productivity can reduce burnout

    By improving productivity among your staff and lowering the stress level, you can prevent burnout. But how do you improve?

    There’s a common perception that productivity is about the individual. However, it is also all about your systems. Harvard Business Review (HBR) explains that to make a substantial impact on performance, business owners must work at the system level. This is true for one reason – most people don’t work in complete isolation. Instead, they work in complex organizations that rely on interdependencies among people. HBR has four recommendations to improve productivity and efficiency on an organizational level:

      • Tier your huddles
        Implementing quick huddles among each team, starting with front-line employees first to the C-Levels, will allow issues to be addressed at the lowest possible level.
      • Make work visible
        In order to determine whether employees are overloaded, you must be able to see all of the assignments running through the shop. Task boards, whether they’re a physical board or a digital project management system, can help paint a clear picture of what work needs to be done and who’s assigned.
      • Define the “bat signal”
        When a true emergency or big issue is occurring, employees need a way to communicate it quickly and ensure the correct team members receive the message. Rather than employees having to check all communication platforms constantly while working, which can interrupt productivity, determine one channel they must always stay alert to in case of emergency.
      • Align responsibility with authority
        Often times, employees are responsible for tasks, but not provided the authority to deliver results. If someone is responsible for a specific outcome, they should have the ability to make necessary decisions without endless rounds of meetings, emails or presentations.

    These four recommendations are consistent with the core principles of the EOS®/Traction program, emphasizing the importance of transparency and accountability throughout an organization.

    Delegation is key to prevent burnout and propel productivity

    As the owner of a business, it can be difficult to let things go and delegate critical issues to others. You want everything to be perfect and it’s easy to slip into the mindset “if you want it done right, you must do it yourself.”

    However, there’s no way for you to do it all by yourself as you continue to grow your business. That’s a sure way for you to burnout and productivity will plummet. You must learn how to delegate successfully.

    Teresa Sande, founder of Mirror Mirror Strategies and a CEO Nexus content partner, recently hosted a presentation for members on the key principles of effective delegation.

    According to Sande, there’s a spectrum of choices a leader must consider as an organization grows and evolves. To delegate effectively, it’s important to find the “scenario-appropriate” balance.

    Delegation can be a tricky subject to tackle for some CEOs. There are many reasons why owners fail to delegate effectively. However, once you overcome these challenges, there are many benefits to be unlocked with delegation:

      • Gets YOU, the business owner, focused on mission critical items
      • Time management and balance
      • Develops your bench
      • Engages the team
      • Encourages inclusion and diversity of style – the what, not the how
      • Creates a culture of accountability and learning
      • Ensures ROI – Don’t overpay for tasks

    So how should you approach delegation? Sande shared the best process to follow to achieve optimal results.

      1. Identify the task
      2. Evaluate the receiver
      3. Clearly direct
      4. Check in
      5. Evaluate
      6. Recognize and reward

    By following delegation best practices and promoting productivity in the workplace, you can save both yourself and your team from burnout, which will help keep the entire business on track.

    Click here to view an article on this topic by CNBC.
    Click here to view an article on this topic by Harvard Business Review.
    Click here (members-only) to view Teresa Sande’s presentation on delegation.

    About CEO Nexus
    CEO Nexus is committed to serving business owners and executive teams leading growth-oriented, second-stage businesses. Our facilitated peer roundtable program utilizes the CEO Nexus Content Model, which focuses on leadership, sales, operations, and finance. The program is structured to enhance Your Ownership Journey™.