From Zero to Sixty
After two quiet years due to COVID, camp operations are back and in full swing! Unfortunately, staffing shortages have caused many employees to feel overworked and worn thin, especially after going from zero to sixty so quickly. The summer is even more difficult with busy camp programming and hectic schedules. With so many staff members feeling burned out, it can be easy to see the vision of your organization start to slip through the cracks. So, as Executive Directors, Camp Directors, and Board Members, what can you do to motivate and refresh your teams?
Notice the warning signs
The first thing you can do as a leader is become aware of the warning signs that your staff is feeling overworked and exhausted. Be on the lookout for things like frequent sick days, uncommon mistakes, irritability, and decreased productivity. The side effects of employee burnout are serious and can include increased anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Believe it or not, side effects can even follow employees home in the form of poor sleep habits, decreased or increased appetite, and lack of motivation. So, it is important to familiarize yourself with these signs in order to recognize them. You should also have a plan in place of how to deal with employee fatigue when you notice someone struggling. With the hiring crisis, it is more important than ever to try and retain the staff that you have.
Refresh your staff
Now that you know how to spot the warning signs of a burnt-out employee, it’s time to talk about re-engaging your staff. One of the most important things you can do to mitigate stressors and keep staff engaged is to create an environment where mental health is a priority. That may look like:
Creating spaces where staff can go to escape the stressors of work.
This may mean having an area within the camp where staff can get away and meditate, practice breathing exercises, or listen to music. You could make the environment more enjoyable with fun décor or comfy furniture.
Offering more breaks and social time.
Everyone, youth especially, needs enough time to take a proper break and engage with peers. This can help to refocus the mind and offer a reprieve from day-to-day responsibilities.
Encouraging overall wellness.
An employee who focuses on their own well-being is more likely to have a positive outlook and be more productive. Consider having programming or outreach that includes topics about physical exercise, nutrition, healthy relationships, and dealing with stress.
You can also re-engage your staff by reminding them of the importance of their work. When people feel like their work is making a difference, they put forth more effort. Show your staff that you appreciate them and let them know how their position positively impacts the mission of your organization. Make sure to celebrate successes and encourage peer-to-peer recognition.
Prevent the Burn
Above all else, try and prevent the burn-out from happening in the first place. We understand it is especially hard with the current staffing crisis, but luckily there are some effective ways to work on prevention.
- Make sure your staff is taking their vacation time and appropriate breaks.
- Spread out everyone’s workload so that responsibility is evenly distributed.
- Encourage regular feedback from your employees to check on their well-being.
- Provide comprehensive ongoing training to your entire staff to ensure everyone is confident in their duties.
- Adopt an open communication policy so that everyone feels comfortable expressing their concerns to leadership.
We understand that many staff members are being stretched beyond their means which puts a lot of strain on the entire organization from the leadership down. During this time, it is more important than ever to take good care of yourself and your staff. Try and do what you can to prevent your staff from becoming burnt out and emotionally exhausted. Use the tips above to help refresh staff as needed and create a positive atmosphere. The more you put into your people, the more likely they are to stay and embrace the work they do.