Managing burnout: strategies to combat employee and founder fatigue

By Trisha Degg

You know how radio stations play down the “Top Songs of the Year”? Well, in HR, we have something similar that we call “People Themes of the Year.” This year, “Quiet Quitting” is topping the charts. It’s everywhere, the earworm you can’t avoid. In case you are tuning in late, quiet quitting isn’t leaving a job; it’s about leaving behind the push to go the extra mile. Unhappy with some aspects of their current company or role, employees complete the bare minimum.

Quiet quitting also happens to be a tell-tale sign of employee burnout and exhaustion.

At Jump, we host quarterly virtual strategy sessions dedicated to all things People. These sessions are tailored for the HR Leaders of our portfolio companies and, in a separate track, the founders. This summer, burnout came up in both sessions. We zeroed in on combating employee fatigue with our HR leaders and broadened the discussion to include founder burnout with our entrepreneurs, underscoring its profound business impact.

Employees are tired. A relentless sequence of global shake-ups - 2020 brought a pandemic that had both employers and employees on shaky ground, 2021 brought whiplash hiring, 2022 brought mass big tech layoffs with more uncertainty, and 2023 ushered in the “let’s wait and see” approach – has been quite the roller coaster.

Those who weathered the storm with their employers are grateful but yearn for stability. Those who took leaps of faith for something new in 2021 now crave transparency and more communication. The layoffs taking place in our tech community leave employees doing more for less – a precursor to burnout if ever there was one.

Consequently, the best companies prioritize mental health by managing burnout. Offering plenty of days off to recharge (and making sure employees use them!), providing and encouraging movement throughout the day (virtual yoga, anyone?!), and ‘surprise and delight’ days off. That last one can make a big impact - It is an unplanned day that the entire office shuts down so all employees can recharge.

Companies are also allowing employees to shape their workday, like Play-Doh. Flexibility is key, reshaping the workday can make a world of difference. It's like management is saying, "We trust you to deliver, no matter where or when." This allows workers to find that sweet spot between work and life, helping zap burnout like a champ. Introducing mindfulness practices can also be a game-changer: short meditation sessions, yoga breaks, and even encouraging employees to step away from their screens for a breather. It's like hitting the reset button on their brains, helping them recharge and bounce back stronger.

However, when we discussed this topic with our founders, they echoed our sentiment but raised an important point – employers aren’t the only ones managing burnout. Founders aren’t immune to exhaustion. Hearing that, we invited a seasoned entrepreneur to share wisdom with our founders about how they can avoid it (if possible) or manage it.

The suggestions were simple but powerful:

  1. Founders don't need to be the superhero trying to do it all.
  2. Founders need to delegate tasks and responsibilities to their team members.
  3. Founders need to trust employees to handle things while they focus on the big picture.

Remember, teamwork makes the dream work! Our entrepreneur also stressed that it’s important for founders to set clear boundaries between work and personal life:

  1. Turn off those work notifications during your off-hours and give yourself the space to recharge. Your well-rested brain will thank you.
  2. Learn to pivot; it's like in coding – sometimes you need to debug your approach.

Ultimately, founders and employees alike shouldn’t hesitate to pivot their strategy if signs of burnout are present. Whether it's adjusting goals, rethinking timelines, or even exploring new avenues, being adaptable can save your sanity.

Crafting a work environment that values well-being isn't just a trend – it's a powerful investment in your team's success and company longevity. By championing open communication, offering flexibility, and promoting self-care, companies can combat burnout and cultivate a motivated, resilient workforce ready to conquer new heights together. So, let's bid adieu to burnout and welcome a future where work is a source of inspiration, growth, and fulfillment. Your team deserves it, and so do you. Here's to a future that's not only burnout-free but also resonant with success and fulfillment.

By Trisha Degg

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