5 ways leaders can help their teams manage stress and burnout

Healthcare is a uniquely demanding industry. Long hours combined with the physically, mentally and emotionally taxing nature of the works often results in stress, burnout and disengagement among workers and leaders alike.

For leaders, managing personal stress can be challenging, let alone helping team members manage theirs. However, research shows there are practical and easy-to-implement development activities that can help teams increase resiliency toward stress and burnout, according to the Harvard Business Review.

1. Demonstrate and promote well-being practices. Although stress can be contagious, well-being has the same effect within a team. A recent Gallup report that surveyed 105 teams of six for three-month periods found individual team members who reported experiencing well-being were 20 percent more likely to have other team members experience the same within six months, according to HBR. Leaders can cultivate well-being among team members by prioritizing activities that promote personal health and stress management. These can include mindfulness, resilience training and encouraging people to exercise or engage in renewal activities.

2. Encourage workers to disconnect outside of work. Long shifts in the hospital and late nights in the office make time for rest and rejuvenating all the more important. A report from McKinsey suggests "always-on, multitasking environments are killing productivity, dampening creativity and making us unhappy," according to the report. By conveying the importance of taking breaks and using time off work on the evenings and weekends to replenish energy, leaders can help their teams stave off burnout.

3. Train the brain to manage chaos. Practicing mindfulness can instill useful mental habits that enhance resiliency and productivity at work and in one's personal life. Leaders and teams who prioritize mindfulness collaborate better, control stress more effectively and improve performance, according to the report.

4. Debunk the myth of multitasking. Humans are not computers — we are not "effective or efficient parallel processors." Multitasking "doubles the amount of time it takes to do a task, and it usually at least doubles the number of mistakes," said JoAnn Deak, PhD, a neuroscientist and educational researcher, according to the report. To reach peak levels of productivity and efficiency, encourage team members to "monotask" and focus on one task at a time.

5. Show empathy and compassion. Managers who show empathy and compassion to their teams significantly improve employee performance, engagement and overall profitability, according to the report. "The single greatest influence on profitability and productivity within an organization…is the ability of leaders to spend more time and effort developing and recognizing their people, welcoming feedback, including criticism and fostering cooperation among staff," a seminal research project at the University of New South Wales found, according to the report. The report also noted leaders should strive to "understand people's motivators, hopes and difficulties and to create the right support mechanism to allow people to be as good as they can be."

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