March 18, 2014
Nonprofits can be fast-paced and sometimes stressful environments. Because of the passionate drive and tight budgets, many have an atmosphere similar to that of a small startup. As long as nonprofit employees believe in the mission and enjoy the work, the organization will remain relatively stress-free.
However, if a leader at a nonprofit notices burnout among employees, it may be time to make some changes from a management standpoint and a mental health one. It's important to make sure that employees are not stressed when they don't need to be. Expectations should be clear and it's important that workers know which of their tasks are priorities and what can be put off until later.
One person, too many hats
According to a KissMetrics blog post, among the factors that lead to burnout are role conflict. This is perhaps one of the most common problems at small nonprofits. As individual employees find themselves manning positions that many companies would delegate to two or more people, burnout is inevitable. Role conflict does not necessarily mean that an employee is working 60 hours a week either.
Even if there is enough time in the day, when employees are assigned too many varying tasks, they feel pulled in multiple directions all day long. These people constantly have to prioritize and put one set of problems on hold while sorting out the other.
Lack of communication
If a nonprofit has hired the right employees, its leaders should not need to constantly micromanage. However, if feedback is rarely provided, employees can feel disengaged from the company and lose their passion for the job. Feedback should also be honest. Don't tell employees whose work isn't satisfactory they are doing their job well just to reduce stress. It will only make the situation worse down the road when the errors can no longer go unmentioned. By then, the laundry list of things that need improvement will seem overwhelming.
While nonprofits can be rewarding places to work, it's important to make sure that employees feel valued and motivated. Burnout is far less likely when workers are engaged with the company and feel they are making an impact within the organization and the community it serves. It may be a good idea to hold a monthly meeting with staff members to ensure that stress levels are not too high.
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