Focus on Retention

How to Prevent Employee Burnout

To prevent burnout and encourage employees, make sure you use the right leadership paradigm. Sometimes managers get caught up in an interesting leadership paradox. They see the employees' role as one of serving the managers rather than the members. In reality, employees should serve the members and their expectations.

This leadership paradigm will help your business: Leaders serve employees, employees serve members, and members serve leaders through their continued financial commitments, which include memberships and referrals.

When leaders focus their attention on their staff, burnout and turnover are not problems. People don't leave jobs they love. They don't leave careers that fuel them and enable them to contribute in a meaningful way. Talented individuals will work themselves to the point of burnout in an attempt to be recognized as important team members. They will knock themselves out for some affirmation and recognition. However, when burnout hits, they leave.

Is there a difference between quitting and leaving? You bet. When a great employee, manager or director quits, the loss is obvious. When others “leave” without quitting, you end up with the shell of the people you hired. The loss is less apparent, yet its impact is significant.

When you stop to think about it, it isn't hard to figure out who's on fire, passionate and connected to his or her work. Likewise, it also isn't difficult to recognize who is on the verge of an explosion or meltdown.

The key is to slow down and identify who needs your attention. List 10 great employees you manage. Can you remember the last time you specifically asked what was working well for them and what wasn't? What was the last request they had? Did you address it? If you can't answer these questions with a direct, positive response, you could be on the verge of losing your best people.

The symptoms of approaching burnout are obvious. The solutions can be simple or complex. Discovering what most employees want is simple. Just ask them.

Giving employees what they need or want may require a financial investment, creativity, flexibility and a good dose of patience. The question to ask is, “What will it cost us to not address their needs?”

When employees know that their well-being is important to the club, their productivity, loyalty and happiness soar. With them bending over backward to serve the members, your members will be happy. Happy members bring in plenty of business, increasing your success.

Lip service to serving employees and preventing burnout won't suffice. Action works. Action that incorporates solutions and ideas suggested by your team will serve the ultimate client, the member.

Kate Larsen is president of Winning LifeStyles Inc. She is a keynote speaker, workshop leader, professionally certified coach and author specializing in leadership development, work/life balance and coaching skills. Her 16 of years experience as a fitness instructor and certified personal trainer give her practical expertise and knowledge. She can be reached at (888) Lif-Walk or

Strategies for Handling Burnout

Here are a few ideas to coach yourself through burnout or to share with your staff:

  1. Ask yourself: What do I need most right now? Do I need to:
    • take some quiet time?
    • re-evaluate my schedule?

    • hire an assistant?

    • fire someone?

    • get a good night's sleep?

    • nurture relationships?

  2. Now that you know what your need is, ask yourself these questions:
    • Who can help me meet this need?

    • What must happen before I can take care of this need?

    • How will I benefit from taking care of this need?

    • What is the cost to me physically, emotionally, spiritually and interpersonally if I don't take care of it?

Recognizing the Top 10 Symptoms of Burnout

To determine if your employees are feeling burned out, look for the following signs:

Do they…

  • regularly feel overwhelmed?

  • operate at one speed (fast), making mistakes from moving too quickly?

  • fail to address issues in a timely fashion because they lack concentration?

  • turn small matters into big deals?

  • experience more conflicts/misunderstandings with peers and members?

  • have difficulty giving people their full attention?

  • procrastinate and/or finish tasks in a less complete manner?

  • gain or lose an unusual amount of weight?

  • perceive people and activities that used to bring them joy as a hassle?

  • lack patience and creativity, increasing conflict and reducing the amount of positive solutions they offer?

Helping Employees With Burnout

Is burnout a concern for your employees? Here's what you can do to help:

  1. Listen. Monitor the level of burnout by asking yourself the following questions:
    • Is sarcasm and cynicism on the rise?

    • Is conflict increasing?

    • Is everyone running around saying things such as, “I don't have time,” “I'm running late,” or “How complete do you need that report?”

    If you answer “yes” to one or all of these questions, carve out time in your schedule for these action steps.

  2. Evaluate expectations with individuals. Ask employees these questions:
    • Do you need to change the number of hours you work and your schedule?

    • Who provides you with support, training and encouragement on the job?

    • What tasks in your job come naturally for you? (Time goes quickly when you feel good about your work.)

    • What tasks drain you? What can you do to get support?

  3. Show appreciation.
    • Give employees a chance to shine.

    • Reward and acknowledge both large and small efforts.

    • Encourage people in informal and formal ways.

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