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11 Tips for Nonprofits to Prevent Employee Burnout

Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Natalie Terchek
11 Tips for Nonprofits to Prevent Employee Burnout

It has been a trying year for many nonprofit organizations. Between staffing issues, heavy workloads and adapting to new COVID-19 guidelines, employee burnout has become quite common. For some employees, the negative effects of burnout extend beyond their work life and into their home and social life. Moreover, burnout can increase an employee’s risk of getting sick or developing a chronic condition.

But companies are taking action. According to our Nonprofit Benchmark Report, many organizations stated that they will prioritize employee wellbeing moving forward.

What Can Nonprofits Do to Prevent Employee Burnout?

While it may not be possible to eliminate all job stress, nonprofit organizations can help their employees manage their stress effectively while preventing burnout and improving morale. The Horton Group has put together a list of helpful tips:

  • Make sure that workloads are appropriate. Have managers schedule regular check-ins with employees to see what projects are on their plates. Help remove unnecessary stress by setting expectations about workloads and clarifying any modified work hours and norms.
  • Connect with employees on a personal level. The best way to help employees is to start by asking how they are doing. If a manager notices that one of their direct reports is acting differently, check in and simply ask, “Are you okay?” Employees may choose not to engage (which is fine), but it’s important to initiate that conversation. Additionally, consider asking what kind of support would be helpful to your employees. Reinforce that the door is open if they’d like to talk.
  • Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately. Do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviors. Make sure policies around these behaviors are clearly stated in your employee handbook or intranet. Consider including education around these polices during onboarding and throughout the year.
  • Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes. If you conduct weekly team meetings, have each team member share one “win” they experienced throughout the week. This contributes to an increase in morale and a decrease in stress levels. Use your intranet or internal communication/marketing resources to recognize successes or peer to peer shoutouts.
  • Encourage a positive work-life balance. One way mangers and leaders can do this is by modeling healthy behaviors. To be a good example to other employees, prioritize self-care and set boundaries. Be vocal and open about what you’re doing to take care of yourself and avoid burnout.
  • Promote exercise at your organization. Exercise is a proven stress reliever, so find ways to incorporate movement into the workday. You can organize a lunchtime walking club or lead “chair yoga” sessions in the mornings. Implementing a voluntary wellness program for your company can also encourage employees to make time to exercise outside of the workday.
  • Encourage employees to use their paid time off. It is extra important that managers/leadersalso use their paid time off – employees often learn by example, and many may be hesitant to touch their vacation days if they see their managers and leaders working on their “PTO” days.
  • Incorporate company-sponsored activities throughout the workday. An exciting opportunity to allow and encourage employees to leave their desks and take a break. These activities do not need to be expensive or time-consuming. Examples include book clubs, trivia contests, potlucks or happy hours.
  • Train managers on how to keep their team engaged and motivated at work. Leadership needs to be aware of how to address burnout with their team. One way that this can be accomplished is to be more transparent and vulnerable with internal teams. Opening up about struggles or experiences can help decrease the stigma around mental and emotional health. As a result, other employees could feel more comfortable talking about how they truly are doing.
  • Remember that the behavioral health focus should be on all employees. That means organization leaders should remember to support all employees no matter if there are a fellow leader or team member.
  • Highlight available resources. It’s important to make employees aware of available mental health resources and encourage them to use such offerings. There are three commonly desired workplace resources that employees gravitate towards: an open and accepting culture, clear information about where to go or who to ask for support, and training to help managers/leaders have productive conversations.

Remember, everyone’s situation is different. It is important to remain sensitive to the fact that some employees may be carrying on as usual, while others may be struggling. Avoid calling out specific employees and make sure to keep any conversations about an employee’s mental health or stressors confidential.

Where Can I Find More Information on Preventing Employee Burnout?

A strong wellness program can help your employees focus on their mental health, which can ultimately lead to them being more proactive and energized at work. Set up a consultation with our Wellness Team to enhance your wellness program and learn more about stress reduction resources.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.