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How to Spot and Prevent Sales Team Burnout

Mar 26, 2021
Author: Natasha Lane

There’s a prevalent tendency in business circles to laud the benefits of work-life balance and self-care as effective ways to maximize company-wide performance. But the defeating fact is that most organizations still encounter a worrying amount of burnout.

According to the World Health Organization, it is “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Its symptoms include exhaustion, disengagement, and low productivity.

But it’s more than “just” a loss of profits due to team inefficiency. According to Deloitte, 77% of professionals have experienced burnout at their current job. And that means higher disengagement, a greater likelihood of missing work days due to poor physical and mental health, and, ultimately, a bigger chance of a high employee turnover rate.

So how do you know whether your sales team is experiencing burnout? And more importantly, how do you prevent it? Read on to find out.

Start with Culture

If you have any suspicions about members of your sales team suffering from burnout, your best bet will be to take a look at the kind of environment they’re working in. You might not be able to impact people’s sleep schedules and commute times, but you can do quite a lot to make them feel supported at work. That’s why investing in company culture is such a great idea when looking to boost sales team performance.

One easy way to spot and prevent burnout is to seek out feedback from your employees. You can do this by conducting regular one-on-one meetings and asking them how they’re doing. Or, if you’ve got a large team of salespeople working for you, use surveys that will make things a bit more manageable.

When asking for feedback, you’ve got to keep two things in mind:

1. Your employees will need to feel comfortable telling you how they feel. This means making the workplace a safe space for communication and building trust between all team members.

2. Understand that, sometimes, people won’t feel comfortable sharing their struggles. In these circumstances, your role as a leader will be to offer them the best possible support you can without overstepping any boundaries.

Finally, don’t forget about the powers of observation. As a leader or manager, you should have sufficient experience and knowledge of your colleagues to know when someone’s underperforming or seems off. In these cases, take the initiative and ask how you can support them better. In the end, a bit of advice, help, or an adjusted deadline can go a long way in lowering stress levels. And that will certainly help in avoiding burnout altogether.

Evaluate Your Organization’s Work Model

In addition to the work environment, there are several other causes of burnout.

Generally, they can all be described as stressors, whether internal or external. In small doses, they’re perfectly surmountable with discipline, fair reward, and well-timed rest. But if they’re allowed to add up, they become unmanageable, leading to the breakdown we call burnout.

For this reason, leaders need to have a strong understanding of the challenges their sales teams face. Even small changes, like adapting work hours, can have a positive impact. So, it’s not a bad idea to pay attention to the following aspects of your employees’ experience:

1. Workload – Several surveys have shown that an unsustainable workload is one of the leading causes of burnout. For example, Mumbai is on the top 3 list of cities with the highest burnout thanks to workdays that are almost 50% longer than the average.

So, if you’re serious about promoting employees’ wellbeing, consider offering (and encouraging) more time off, think about implementing alternative working models like remote work, and ensure that any deadlines and task lists are manageable with the offered resources.

2. The pressure to perform – Sometimes, people tend to overwork themselves even when there’s no objective need to do so. This can be the result of internal pressures, but sometimes, the culprit is an organizational emphasis on measurable results.

To avoid the issue, try not to encourage competition among the members of your sales team. Instead, work to prevent burnout by emphasizing organizational values like innovative approaches or work done well.

3. Offer sufficient reward – Finally, don’t underestimate the influence compensation has on people. The right kind of reward can boost motivation, provide a sense of achievement, and improve overall job satisfaction. And best of all, it doesn’t have to be in the form of money.

Publicly acknowledging your sales team’s successes, giving extra time off for a job well done, or even offering a learning opportunity can all be great incentives. Best of all, if these actions are performed regularly, they can even prevent chronic stress, which leads to employee burnout.

Promote Employee Wellbeing

Last but not least, burnout detection and prevention are impossible without a company-wide focus on employee wellbeing. To truly support your sales team in having a great work experience that brings them satisfaction, pay attention that their physical and mental health is well taken care of.

In addition to the standard social and health insurance benefits, consider offering perks like wellness packages, healthy break room snacks, or mental health benefits like stress management training. More importantly, encourage them to make full use of all the possibilities given to them.

Whenever possible, try to practice flexibility in terms of work hours and location. For example, research shows that 65% of employees want to continue working remotely even after the pandemic, while 31% want a hybrid arrangement. If you consider how this type of possibility boosts both productivity and job satisfaction, it’s clearly a change worth making.

In Closing

As you can see, there’s quite a lot you can do to prevent sales team burnout. And almost all the actions rely on practicing honest communication, providing support, and ensuring a healthy approach to work.

But, of course, you must understand that as a leader or manager, you can’t always be the one to spot the first signs of an employee dealing with more than they can handle. For this reason, you must speak to your sales team about the importance of burnout prevention. 

Teach them how to recognize its signs and make it clear that they can come to you for help when they feel overwhelmed. Knowing that they will be supported even at their lowest is much more likely to encourage them to take the necessary actions to care for themselves. And taking prompt action will prevent them from being pushed past the point of no return.


About the Author: Natasha is a growth hacker, lady of a keyboard, and one hell of a geek. She is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs and share her knowledge about business growth and digital marketing trends. To see what she is up to next, check out her Twitter feed.

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