It's great to be busy, but not if your team burns out.
The pressure's on. You've just signed five new clients. You've received the largest order in the company's history. You're launching a brand new product line. Whatever it may be, everyone in the office is working around the clock. And it's clear the team morale is starting to suffer.
Early mornings and late nights are taking a toll on your staff. But with deadlines looming and shipments that have to be made, the work load can't take a back seat.
We've all been there. It's clear that you need help, but there's no way you can hire and train someone to alleviate the work in time. Even if you're able to find someone quickly, training that person will just add another task on your team's to-do list.
Business may be booming, but it's pretty much pointless if you don't have any staff to run the company. While your company thrives, your employees suffer. It's a hard place for any leader.
When pressure builds, here are five immediate steps leaders can take to prevent a queue of employees quitting.
1. Acknowledge what's happening.
Overworked and under appreciated are two surefire ways to receive your next resignation letter. When the to-do list never seems to end, employees start to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and resentful.
Leaders have to acknowledge what's happening. When someone is typically managing three clients and all of as sudden has 10, you can bet their stress levels are going through the roof.
So when you're in the thick of it, hold a company wide meeting addressing how hard everyone is working. Let them know that you realize this isn't the standard amount of work, and recognize they're going above and beyond. Acknowledgment will immediately bring the boiling point to a simmer.
2. Talk about it.
While addressing people's efforts is a start, you need to break this down on an individual level. Depending on the size of your company, meet with the heads of each department and ask them to speak with their staff about the current work load.
Let people vent. Sometimes we all need a sounding board to let go of our frustrations and stress levels. It may be difficult to hear, but leadership is about being there for your employees. Give them a platform to speak and be heard.
3. Thank them. Then reward them.
How would you feel if you spent hours preparing a gourmet meal for your friends and family, then not one person thanked you or even complimented the food?
You think it would go without saying, but time and time again leaders forget how important those two little words are. Acknowledgment is one thing, gratitude is another. Tell them what a good job they're doing. Then do it again. And again.
After all of this hard work, they certainly deserve a reward. Whether it's a bonus, travel vouchers, or a company retreat, make their efforts worth while.
4. Give them a light at the end of the tunnel.
Don't forget that people have lives outside of work. Whenever possible, notify employees in advance that you've just signed on new clients. From kids to soccer practice, if they're about to work overtime, many have to plan accordingly.
Prevention and strategy falls on leadership. Now's the time to put a plan in place. Be transparent with employees that you're taking steps to ensure you're better staffed and prepared should a future situation arise. Stay busy, not burn out.
5. Follow through.
Once the company has received some reprieve, get to work. Put your plan into action and processes in place to hire more people, train more staff, and alleviate people's workloads.
Remember that company retreat and bonus you promised them? Well, you can bet they didn't. Don't be all talk. Be a leader with action.