Guest Post By: Issa Coultas
Digital marketers are becoming more at risk for burnout as organizational demands increase and new channels, strategies, and technologies are introduced into the digital space. Digital marketing specialists must constantly update their skill set for new platforms as well as keep up with changes to old platforms in order to stay ahead of competitors. Besides requiring more time spent working on skills, more platforms also creates more data for digital marketers to analyze, resulting in longer time requirements. These higher work demands coupled with slow growth in the talent pool and headcount dedicated to digital marketing departments put digital marketing specialists at a high risk for burnout.
Stress and overworking yourself are two obvious results of burnout, but digital marketers face many other consequences. Burnout can cause a decline in creativity and level of interaction with others, as well as decreased job satisfaction. Other consequences include physical illness (related to stress) and increased feelings of hopelessness, irritability, and impatience. In severe cases, burnout can cause diminishment of executive functioning, attention, and memory.
How Can Managers Address Burnout?
A lot of burnout blogs and stories in the media advise changes you as an individual can make to prevent or remedy your own burnout. Common advice includes managing your exercise and sleep habits, and learning new coping strategies such as yoga and meditation. While changes to your personal habits and routines can certainly help you become more resilient against burnout, they do nothing to address the actual areas of your work that are causing your stress in the first place. Burnout prevention and remediation begins and ends with organizational change.
Assessing the severity and type of burnout employees are experiencing are important for justifying the need for organizational intervention. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) is the leading measure of burnout and is validated by over 35 years of research. Managers can use the MBI to assess the level of burnout experienced by their department or team.
The MBI measures each individual’s:
- Exhaustion: feelings of being emotionally overextended and exhausted by work.
- Cynicism: unfeeling and impersonal responses toward coworkers, customers, or other people involved in work.
- Professional Efficacy: feelings of competence and successful achievement in work.
The next step is to address the areas of work that are contributing to burnout. The Areas of Worklife Survey (AWS) was created as a companion piece to the MBI and identifies key areas of strengths and weaknesses in the organizational setting – the weaker the area of work, the more likely it is a contributor to burnout. Managers can use this data to narrow their area of focus and create the biggest impact from their organizational change initiative.
The AWS measures each individual’s perception of their:
- Workload: amount of work to be done in a given time. Workload captures the extent to which work demands spill into personal life, the social pressures, and the physical and intellectual burden of job demands.
- Control: opportunity to make choices and decisions, to solve problems, and to contribute to the fulfillment of responsibilities. Control is the participation in important decisions about work as well as range of professional autonomy.
- Reward: recognition – financial and social – received for contribution on the job. Reward includes praise, awards, perks, and salary.
- Community: quality of the social context at work, encompassing relationships with managers, colleagues, subordinates, and others.
- Fairness: extent to which the organization has consistent and equitable rules for everyone, or the quality of justice and respect at work.
- Values: what matters most to the individual in their work. The focus is the consistency between personal values and organizational values.
You may already have some guesses as to which areas of work are responsible for your organization’s burnout, but you may discover that the areas most complained about aren’t the biggest problems. To successfully prevent and remedy burnout, you need to see the whole picture. The combined AWS + MBI tool is uniquely designed to give you a complete and validated assessment of burnout in your organization. The AWS and MBI are proprietary and available for purchase from the publisher: Mind Garden, Inc. Mind Garden also offers the AWS + MBI Group Report which calculates and summarizes average AWS and MBI scores for your organizational group. It is a critical tool to help you organize your group data and plan a successful organizational change initiative.
My Team Is Experiencing Burnout — What Now?
Your team’s burnout was caused by organizational problems and therefore the solution rests in deliberate organizational change. For example, if Workload is one of your major pain points, you can implement strategies to increase headcount for your team or dedicate systematic uninterrupted work hours. Or if a major pain point is Control, you can create a system to intervene in situations where employees feel micromanaged. Luckily, there are solutions to strengthen every work environment domain measured by the AWS — some simple and others more complex. The AWS + MBI Group Report from Mind Garden lists intervention suggestions for each work area and is a great resource for designing your burnout solutions.
Remember: in order to fully remedy and prevent burnout, solutions must focus on organizational change – not personal change. If the work environment continues to be overwhelming or toxic, no amount of exercise, sleep, yoga, or meditation will alleviate burnout for good. Be an organization against burnout — create meaningful change now!
About Mind Garden Inc.
Mind Garden is an international publisher of psychological assessments, leading the industry in providing tools to facilitate positive personal and organizational transformation. Since 1994, Mind Garden has served the international corporate, academic, and research communities by offering reliable and validated instruments from prominent psychologists. Mind Garden is dedicated to providing products and systems for customers to complete the psychological assessment process with maximum benefits and efficiency. Visit www.mindgarden.com to view all products and services.