In the demanding world of charity work, the commitment to making a positive impact can lead to relentless work and dedication. While the causes we support are undoubtedly important, it’s equally vital to focus on the wellbeing of our teams and ourselves.
Burnout is a genuine concern in the charity sector, and we can choose to address it proactively. We will explore why navigating burnout matters more than ever and look at practical tips to help you manage it.
Charity professionals are passionate about their work, but this passion can sometimes lead to burnout if not appropriately managed. Burnout is more than just feeling stressed; it’s a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress and overwork.
Burnout can be particularly insidious in the charity sector, where time and resources are often limited. We must remember that whilst we can do anything to support our beneficiaries, we may be unable to do everything. The reality of this can feel like failing our beneficiaries when it is actually a failure to recognise the limits of our capacity.
Why managing burnout matters
- Maintaining Impact: Burnout can erode our ability to make a difference. When we’re physically and mentally drained, our effectiveness in serving beneficiaries diminishes, ultimately affecting the causes we care about.
- Supporting the Team: As a leader or colleague, we are responsible for supporting each other. Managing burnout not only supports wellbeing but also helps maintain a positive work environment, fostering creativity, collaboration and morale.
- Long-Term Sustainability: Just as sustainability is essential for the planet, it’s crucial for our charities. A burnt-out team can lead to high turnover and increased recruitment costs, hindering our ability to reach long-term goals.
Tips to manage burnout
It’s okay to say “no”. Learn to prioritise tasks, delegate when possible, and establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. After the workday, I like to do something specific to signify the start of my evening. It might be something simple like putting my laptop away and tidying my workspace or something more mindful like breathwork or lighting a candle/incense.
Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine. Get enough sleep, eat healthily, exercise regularly, and engage in activities that rejuvenate your spirit. Find time for your hobby and be selfish with that time. Talk to your colleagues about your plans and let them know so they can help make you accountable.
Support and communication
Encourage open communication within your team. Create a safe space for sharing concerns and seeking help when needed. Foster a culture of mutual support. Lead by example and embrace success and failure with enthusiasm to learn and grow.
Recognize and celebrate milestones and achievements, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement can boost morale and motivation. If somebody tells you they are ‘just doing their job’, thank them again by recognising that ‘just doing the job’ is not always straightforward and we rely on their expertise.
Advocate for mental health support and wellbeing initiatives within your organisation. Ensure that mental health resources are readily available and destigmatise seeking help when required. Ask colleagues what they expect from mental health support and wellbeing initiatives, and let your offering grow from their recommendations.
Training and development
Invest in training and skill development. Enhancing people’s capabilities improves their job satisfaction and contributes to thriving projects. Again, ask colleagues what training could help them in their roles.
The importance of managing burnout cannot be overstated. By prioritising the wellbeing of our colleagues, we not only preserve our ability to support our beneficiaries but also ensure the long-term sustainability of our organisation. Remember, taking care of yourself allows you to take better care of others. It’s a win-win situation for all involved and ultimately contributes to a healthier, more resilient charity sector.
Our commitment to the causes we serve is vital, but remember that to effect real change, we must first take care of our most valuable assets: ourselves.
About George Knight
George joined DSC at the beginning of 2017 and, having previously led the sales and customer service teams, moved into the training arena at the start of 2020.
If you’re having trouble with managing your workload, George is running a training course called Avoiding Burnout: Managing wellbeing in the workplace – Online course on Tuesday 14 November. Learn more and register here.