Have you noticed yourself feeling more anxious, exhausted, susceptible to mood swings, or unable to sleep at night? If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you may be a small business owner on the brink of burnout.
According to a 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics report, managers are the occupation group most likely to experience burnout, with over a third of them suffering work-induced fatigue. This is on top of findings by Safe Work Australia in 2012 that half of the workplace injury bill - a staggering $30 billion a year - is due to overwork and stress.
In addition to negatively impacting the sufferer’s individual work performance, burnout can quickly snowball into second-hand stress for other employees.
Consequently, business owners have a responsibility to themselves as well as to their employees to stay physically and mentally healthy.
If you are passionate about your business and wish to be at the helm of a happy and thriving workplace, then you need to have a plan of action for avoiding burnout.
The following eight tips will help you:
1. Take control of your emotions
Realise that you have 100 per cent control over your thoughts and that it is your thoughts – the way you interpret a situation, the importance you attach to an outcome, and the expectations you place upon yourself – which determine your feelings.
So, choose to find a benefit from every situation and cut yourself some slack when things don’t go according to plan.
2. Be goal focused
To maximise your own efficiency and to remain focused on your key business objectives stay goal-oriented rather than time-oriented.
Delegate any monotonous tasks to skilled employees or suitable vendors.
Also, to prevent the business taking on a life of its own, regularly revisit your reasons for starting the business. Is the business still aligned with your initial professional and lifestyle goals?
3. Set boundaries
The latest Gallup polls reveal that 67 per cent of workers will stay at a company because of its work-life balance practices.
This affects you as well as your employees so try not to work beyond a set number of hours each week, unplug from technology once you get home, have lunch every day, spend quality uninterrupted time with your family on the weekends, and take holidays during the year.
4. Change it up
One of the causes of burnout is monotonous work practices. Keep yourself physically and mentally fresh by changing things up.
Find innovative ways to do mundane tasks, change your work routine, have walking meetings, and take a two-minute break every 40 minutes to stretch and connect face-to-face with employees.
5. Hire the right people
To allow your business to run efficiently hire people whose personal values reflect those of your business; hire for attitude and train for skill.
Then link employees with jobs that match their strengths as they will be more engaged, more productive, and more loyal.
To encourage innovation and greater responsibility from your staff involve them in the direction of the business.
6. Promote single-tasking
Studies have shown that multitasking actually reduces productivity by as much as 20-40 per cent and makes us more susceptible to making errors, lengthens task time, and increases stress.
Instead, develop the habit of single-tasking throughout the day when driving to work, booting up your computer, eating lunch, or listening to employees.
7. Cultivate a supportive environment
Develop relationships with your employees. Surveys reveal that people with five or more close friends are 60 per cent more likely to be very happy. Also, happier workers help their colleagues 33 per cent more than those who aren’t happy.
So, cultivate an environment where staff are always on the lookout for opportunities to show gratitude and to help one another.
8. Cherish your health
Good health acts as a buffer against stress and improves resiliency. Cherish your health through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep each night.
Include exercise at work by taking the stairs, parking far away from the office, and walking to the water cooler.
Remember – if you lose your health, all of your business objectives and life goals are in jeopardy.
Dr Bruce Wells is a happiness and wellness consultant and is the author of Happiness Anywhere Anytime.