Researchers say collaboration can reduce burnout

Here's how

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Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

If you’ve been feeling the effects of burnout, you’re not alone. According to a recent FlexJobs survey, 75% of the United States workforce is experiencing workplace burnout. Forty percent of those surveyed said they’ve experienced burnout specifically since the pandemic, 37% of which are also working longer hours due to the hazy lines between work and personal life from having a home-based workspace.

The scariest finding from this survey is that 76% of respondents cited workplace stress as a main contributing factor to declining mental health, leading to depression or anxiety. So if you’ve been feeling your mental or emotional health declining since working from home in the pandemic, know that this is a growing problem that does need to be addressed. It is not a reflection of you as a person, it is a complication of a necessary shift in the work environment that now needs to be tweaked in order to be an effective, long-term solution. In other words, working from home was intended to be a short term solution that now needs to shift in order to become a healthy, viable long-term workplace scenario.

The good news is there’s hope. Christina Maslach, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, says companies and organizations can support their employees to overcome and prevent burnout through true collaboration. Here’s how to go about doing that. 

Creating a culture of collaboration

Have you ever been afraid to approach your HR department or company leadership about potential solutions for the problems you or your team are facing? Whether these problems are burnout specific does not matter. If you and your colleagues are afraid to speak up at work because you may be chastised, ignored, or belittled, chances are you’re experiencing a culture of fear. Maslach says collaborative solutions help to ease workload and burnout because truly collaborative efforts end a culture of fear and promote inclusivity. 

To have a successful culture that prevents burnout, the working environment needs to be full of employees fighting the problem of burnout together, not in raising issues with each other.

Building a strong culture comes from creating a community that finds solutions together, where all voices are heard, respected, and considered. While it’s important to foster this as a company, to handle the effects of burnout, businesses and organizations can start with a committee specifically to handle the topic of burnout. 

Collaborating to improve work experience 

As you collaborate to make improvements, Maslach says to stop looking for best practices from other companies or organizations and make custom solutions that work for your team. By focusing on best practices, you ignore the things that make your team and team members unique. Each one has a different situation that needs to be accounted for so that you’re creating solutions that are crafted specifically to the challenges the team faces. For example, how can you each support each other in this new work environment? Perhaps, you set clearer parameters as to what work looks like for each person on the homefront. With the ease of technology, people may be feeling that they are expected to be available to respond all the time. Are there new ways to be flexible or new ways of working that can help you and your colleagues ease the stress you’re facing? Continue evaluating and approaching it together as a team until you’ve honed into a collaborative solution that works well, reducing the amount of burnout and stress your team experiences.  

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