Powerful Lessons about Burnout, Stress and Productivity – Meeting Planners to the Rescue! 

by:Evan Hackel

Work burns people out, it’s a reality. There are real costs that include high turnover, lack of innovation, mistakes and poor customer service, to name a few.  Of course, all of those problems result in stress to people and the business. As meeting planners, you can do something about this. You can create experiences that reduce burnout, ease work stress and encourage innovation.

Why are so few companies today talking about employee burnout and stress? About 10 years ago, many organizations seemed to be concerned about those problems. Articles in business magazines explored burnout. Experts believed it was a major problem. Then the great recession happened and rightly or wrongly, employers began to feel they could overwork and take advantage of employees. Today, the world is changing, and the need for talent, productivity and innovation have increased. Finding and retaining top talent has become ever more difficult.

This is where meeting planners come in. You, as one of them, can create the activities that make a difference.

Don’t Overlook the Harm that Stress and Burnout Cause

When companies accept burnout and stress as normal parts of their culture, massive problems result. Burned-out, overstressed employees:

  • Don’t work as hard, so the quality of their work diminishes
  • Don’t contribute their best ideas, because why bother – they are burned out!
  • Deliver bad customer service, which hurts sales and damages the company’s reputation
  • Fall behind with routine tasks like conducting performance reviews, filing sales reports, following up on work they have delegated, and more
  • Start to look for jobs with other companies, which hurts retention and forces their employers to recruit, hire and train replacements
  • Become “rotten apples” who infect their companies with negativism

When burnout and stress take hold, when is there time for employees to sit back, consider what went well in recent projects, or learn lessons about what could have been better? When can they simply sit back and say, “job well done!” When is there time for them to enjoy their work and take pride in doing it well?

But there are effective remedies and preventions for burnout and stress. Let’s take a closer look.

Hold Important Meetings in Relaxing, Off-Site Locations

You could take your team into a windowless conference room to work on a yearly business plan, or you could take them to a conference center at a resort by a lake. At which location do you think your team will deliver better, more innovative ideas? Where do you think tunnel vision will be less likely to set in? From which location do you think your people will return to work feeling enthusiastic, unstressed, and more imaginative?

Make Leisure and Fun Part of Your Company Culture

If you have visited companies with youthful, entrepreneurial cultures, you know that many of them have comfortable employee lounges that are stocked with snacks and beverages. They have common areas with ping pong and foosball tables and even game consoles. The first time you visit one of those companies, you are apt to be surprised and puzzled. But there is sound reasoning behind building fun into the workplace. Doing so sends the message that employees are not expected to be working hard and glued to their computers or phones every minute of the day. Working for those companies is supposed to be fun, and that expectation is liberating.

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is an important part of improving attitude and reducing burnout and stress.  Look to create fun methods to enable employees and managers to share gratitude.

Hire Speakers that Promote a Positive Attitude

For instance, I have a keynote speech entitled Attitude is Everything. This transforming keynote lets audiences experience the force that attitude plays in achieving extraordinary results. The session is inspirational. Its centerpiece is an unforgettable demonstration in which attendees participate and experience first-hand the power of positive thinking. The result? A revolutionary experience, both for participants and for the organizations they serve.

As meeting planners, you can have a major impact on helping organizations reduce worker burnout and stress. You can impact organizations greatly by reducing turnover, improving customer service and encouraging innovation.