You've got a dream team. Your teammates have the experience, skills and knowledge to tackle any project you throw at them. But lately, your team's energy and attitude don't feel the same. And it's not that surprising: The World Health Organization recognized burnout as an "occupational phenomenon." Burnout doesn't just happen occasionally -- it crops up all the time, and it's likely happening in your office.
I've been a victim myself. I worked 90-hour weeks for years, believing that grinding would help me be successful. Instead, it helped me reach a point of exhaustion so severe that I passed out and suffered a concussion. I literally had to have sense knocked into me. I learned that going slow is actually the best way to move fast.
Don't panic: You've seen your team at their best, and you know what they can accomplish. If your team is lacking motivation, you can re-energize them. Here are four ways to do that.
1. Focus on purpose.
We've heard a lot recently about the success of purpose-driven organizations. Harvard Business Review has highlighted several examples of organizations that propelled themselves out of ruts by aligning their business goals with a higher purpose. Your organization's "purpose beyond profit" likely existed when the company was founded, but over time, it might have been lost in the day-to-day work.
Your purpose differs from a mission statement. An organization's mission statement is the "what"; its purpose is the "why." Remember: Your purpose doesn't have to be saving the world. If you're a tax firm, your purpose might be helping clients manage their finances so they can confidently run their businesses. In the 1950s, Van Arsdale France pitched the purpose of Disneyland to Walt and Roy Disney: "to create happiness for others."
When your employees understand your organization's purpose and recognize the role they play in positively impacting others, they'll be more energized -- regardless of how small a task may seem.
2. Recognize and appreciate your team.
When your team is doing a great job, it's easy to celebrate. However, as success becomes the status quo, it's easy to forget to recognize and appreciate people. When your team's energy and morale start to wane, it's time to assess whether you're failing to give praise.
Recognition of a job well done creates an emotional connection, making your team more motivated. In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie emphasizes the importance of leaders being "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise."
When making praise a priority, tailor your recognition to individual employees. Some team members might enjoy a shout-out in the all-staff meeting for their success on a recent project. For others, that could cause anxiety -- instead, you could offer something as simple as a handwritten note. Most of all, make sure your praise is sincere, and express it authentically.
3. Celebrate special occasions.
Recognition doesn't have to revolve around performance. You should also show appreciation for hard work and dedication by celebrating special occasions like work anniversaries and promotions.
While bringing in treats or picking up the first round at happy hour is great (and appreciated), think outside the box. Catering a healthy lunch is a wonderful way to celebrate without requiring health-conscious employees to indulge. How about a 30-minute break to play a board game or bocce ball together? Hiking and outdoor activities are great ways to celebrate and re-energize at the same time.
4. Inspire healthy habits.
We know exercise has many benefits for our physical and mental well-being. Regularly moving our bodies is key to feeling healthy, increasing mental clarity and staying energized.
Another sustainable way to support energy and health is a standing desk. Not only does this mitigate the effects of sitting all day, but it also promotes more movement. To keep your team refreshed and energized, designate time to get up and move around.
Studies show you don't have to exercise intensely to gain energy-boosting benefits. According to Gixo, simple stretches can get blood flowing and increase endorphins, leaving employees feeling motivated to tackle the rest of the day.
One of my favorite ways to hack productivity and movement is to conduct a walking one-on-one meeting. If you don't need reference materials or notes, plan on walking around the building or neighborhood. You'll return to your desk with your blood flowing and your brain refreshed. This also works well for phone calls.
If your team is in an energy slump, it's your responsibility to extend a hand and pull them out. Focus on celebrating wins, staying physically energized and reminding them why they come to work every day. Burnout is a real thing, and you can't afford to lose your best employees to it.