Recognising Burnout In Your Team And How To Help

As the world faces tough economic times, the financial struggles add an extra layer of pressure to clinic owners.

Running a business can be a rewarding endeavour, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. A significant challenge for most business owners is burnout, a phenomenon that can affect not only business owners but also their team too.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” in its 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). It outlines three components of burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and decreased sense of accomplishment.

Diagnosing burnout requires a holistic approach that considers environmental factors, physical symptoms, pre-existing conditions, and psychological indicators. Assessment scales play a crucial role in this process. The most commonly used scale, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, was published in 1981 and has been instrumental in assessing burnout. However, there has been a growing call for a more nuanced understanding of burnout, as highlighted by researchers including Maslach herself.

A group of researchers at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia conducted a study known as ‘The Sydney Studies’ to explore the symptomatology of burnout. They recruited over a thousand adults, including those in helping roles and caring roles, who identified themselves as experiencing burnout. The researchers aimed to identify the symptoms experienced by participants, their psychological states, and their sense of duty or responsibility. They also investigated the link between burnout and depression.

The results of the research revealed several broad categories of symptoms associated with burnout, including cognitive dysfunction, exhaustion, empathy loss, decreased work performance, and social withdrawal. Interestingly, the researchers did not find symptoms of depression to be a separate category of burnout. This emphasises the need for careful examination of the similarities and differences between these two conditions, particularly in terms of their causes and impacts on individuals.

From this research, a new burnout assessment scale called ‘The Sydney Burnout Measure’ (SBM) emerged. The SBM is a checklist of 34 burnout symptoms, and a higher score indicates a greater likelihood of experiencing burnout. This scale expands the understanding of burnout beyond the original three symptoms of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and decreased sense of accomplishment, suggesting a broader range of twelve symptoms for consideration.

What are the symptoms to look out for?

  • exhaustion
  • anxiety
  • indifference
  • depression
  • irritability or anger
  • sleep disturbance
  • lack of motivation or passion
  • cognitive problems
  • impaired performance
  • becoming asocial
  • physical symptoms
  • emotional lability

For skin and spa clinic owners, burnout can manifest in various ways. The demanding nature of the industry, long working hours, managing staff, and dealing with clients’ expectations can take a toll on their well-being. The financial struggles faced during tough economic times can exacerbate these challenges. Clinic owners may find themselves overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, and experiencing a decreased sense of accomplishment. They may also feel a sense of detachment or negativity towards their business and face difficulties in maintaining high-quality work performance.

So, how can you support and motivate your team if you recognise burnout?

  • Checking in with your manager to review their workload – are they feeling supported with the right tools to then lead by example with the rest of the team?

  • Conduct weekly check-ins with your team, and don’t just make it about the numbers! Focus on how they are reflecting in their role, are they still providing exceptional client care or being a great team player?

  • If they express demotivation, offer support in multiple ways. Can you reduce their training for that week and allow for mental rest in-between clients? Or, set up a support network with mental health care professionals (if you don’t already have an employee support service).

  • As much as team bonding activities may be the solution, consider rescheduling to another week to allow your team to decompress at home.

  • Whilst providing support is key, also setting up a framework to have your team members understand they still must be held accountable for their day-to-day tasks and performance, but affordances will always be provided where needed.

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