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Banish the burnout

By May 11, 2022No Comments

By Vanessa Rogers, Textbox Conceptual

Lost the usual spring in your step when it comes to the profession you’ve always loved? It may be time to investigate whether you’re suffering from burnout and to take a few astute steps to remedy the situation.

Defined by the World Health Organisation as a type of “chronic workplace stress that’s been unsuccessfully managed”, the occupational phenomenon called burnout has three main features: feelings of energy depletion; increased mental distance from one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.

If you’re based in the recruitment industry – and particularly running a small executive search firm servicing the needs of demanding big corporations – there are at least three reasons why you may be feeling burnt out yourself, or could be seeing signs of this phenomenon among your colleagues. They include:

  • The long-felt pressure you were under during the pandemic to service, and keep, your valued retainer clients;
  • Changing candidate priorities i.e. many senior individuals electing to remain where they are for financial security, rather than to make the move to a company with a more suitable culture (even if they would have jumped at the opportunity in the past); and
  • Intense post-pandemic hiring objectives.

The advice from Jeremy Bossenger, director at BossJansen Executive Search is to give yourself, or allow your team, an admin day each week. “Get up to date on paperwork, streamline the workings of that customer relationship management (CRM) portal – and have a team chat, either in person or virtually, to check in with how staff members are feeling and so that good work can receive the necessary praise and any frustrations can be ironed out.”

As pressures mount, so dedicated individuals are likely to work longer hours and take fewer leave days. “This is no good in the long term,” says Bossenger, having just returned from a week’s break himself, “because these are very much the key executives who will then suffer the exhaustion, pessimism/cynicism or decrease in productivity that does no business any favours.”

His top piece of advice for the driven? “There’s a reason we are given 21 annual leave days each year within the South African employment setting. This amounts to 1.75 days per month. Be clever: add them onto a public holiday, tag them onto a weekend, and get out of the city for some much-needed R&R with your family or close friends. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll cull the stress you may be under – preventing it overflowing into burnout, or something even worse.”

Become a weekend warrior

Thought being a “weekend warrior” meant taking home all the work to complete after hours? No sirree. To work effectively during the week, your team needs to break away in their downtime – including weekday evenings at home, and throughout the weekend. “If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s been to establish firm boundaries and enforce a healthy work-life balance,” enthuses Bossenger.

“This management approach rubs off well on our team members and corporate clients, as well as the candidates we are seeking to place. Just a five-minute chat before we get down to business – about the ultra-marathon you attempted and survived, or the camping trip they thoroughly enjoyed – sets the tone for a life well lived outside of the office. Recruitment is a people-oriented sector and their well-being always comes first.”

Put self-care on the agenda

Try these five easy ways to prioritise your health on a regular basis:

  • Take control of your calendar by blocking out an hour here or there, during which you’re able to complete important tasks undisturbed;
  • Exercise daily, even if it’s just a short walk during your lunch break or an evening yoga ritual while the sun sets;
  • See a dietician if you find yourself regularly skipping meals, or getting by on just coffee for long periods of time;
  • Spend at least one day of the weekend out in nature – at the beach, trail running, hiking or mountain biking, playing in the park with your kids/furkids, or prettying up your garden;
  • See a therapist to get some much-needed perspective if you’re battling to see beyond the stresses of your own immediate work demands.

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