Funeral directing is a challenging job: short timelines, grieving families and the pressures of modern business make burnout a real issue for both funeral home owners, management and staff. Burnout may result in staff who are disengaged and demotivated in their job role, which can lead to an obvious reduction in their productivity and performance.

These 5 steps are suggestions that may help to prevent or avoid burnout within your team.


  1. Ditch multitasking and help employees truly focus 


Mutitasking is deeply engrained in our fast-paced business environments. Based on over 50 years of cognitive science, and more recent studies, we know that multitasking is inefficient and does not work.

The fractured attention span caused by frequent multitasking can be seriously impacting productivity and morale. Paul Atchley is an associate professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Kansas and reports that multitasking makes us less effective in our jobs and our lives, and can affect our long-term memory and creativity.

Some employees are asked to split their attention between a myriad of tasks on a daily basis, which can mean that almost nothing actually receives full attention.

The solution may be monotasking.

Monotasking is focussing on a single task at hand instead of taking on large to-do lists or projects all at once. And it may be the obvious remedy to a team’s declining motivation and apparent inability to focus.

A 2016 University of California study found that people who work online all day are more likely to expend their brain’s natural capacity for focus due to the tendency to multitask. Once employees get to this stage, they may have trouble feeling engaged or motivated, which can lead to burnout.

So how can managers encourage monotasking within their teams? Start by creating concise schedules that help employees balance multiple jobs at once without constantly switching back and forth.

There are always tight funeral timelines to consider, but your team may actually be more productive and engaged if you can cultivate an environment that helps them work without constantly swapping tasks.


  1. Discuss career growth on a regular basis 


Research by ProOpinion shows that to feel truly valued within an organisation, employees need the opportunity and support to better themselves and advance their careers. 26% of workers feel that career advancement opportunities drive them the most at the office. Without career growth, everyday tasks may lose their purpose, and employees may feel like their work is merely laborious.

Reviews of more than 250,000 large companies in the U.S. showed that opportunities for career advancement was a leading contributor to employee morale.

More frequent discussions relating to career advancement and long-term goals, will lead to employees feeling better supported in their career paths. Simply discussing where employees want to be in the future can have a major impact on how valued people feel, and can help bring a real sense of purpose to their work.


  1. Encourage recharge periods


Like our smartphones, humans need to be recharged too.

It’s just not in our nature to be constantly tuned in, and when we try to undertake a significant load of work at once, without stopping for periodic breaks, we can actually end up in an unproductive and undesirable state of what researchers call continuous partial attention.

As Linda Stone, the former head of Microsoft University, writes on her website, “In a 24/7, always-on world, continuous partial attention used as our dominant attention mode contributes to a feeling of overwhelm, over-stimulation and to a sense of being unfulfilled. We are so accessible, we’re inaccessible.”

Managers can help by subscribing to a more results-oriented culture in the workplace, which recognises that gaps or breaks in productivity are necessary and healthy.


  1. Don’t overlook small victories


Research from the University of Michigan found that teams performed best when managers gave 6 times as much positive feedback as negative feedback. When employees received significantly more positive feedback for their work, they were more likely to feel valued, appreciated, and motivated to improve their performance… and these aspects are all key in reducing burnout.

It is common for managers to point out only negative feedback or withhold feedback completely, than to offer employees praise for their work. Alexander Kjerulf, a Denmark-based workplace happiness researcher suggests that criticism is vitally important.

He goes on to say that, “We need to tell people what they do well and what they can do better, but many workplaces either give no feedback or only give criticism. This is a shame because we learn so much from being told what we get right.”

Managers should therefore work hard to bring attention to everyday victories and to let their employees know their work isn’t going unnoticed.


  1. Set a positive example with your own behaviour


 According to a report by the Harvard Business Review, stress can be contagious and easily spread through a business. However, the converse can be true as well. A Gallup report suggests that when any member of a team experiences wellbeing, the effect seems to spread across the entire team.

Managers are in a position to set the tone for their team, by exemplifying positive behaviours in their own day-to-day work and interactions. If you slog away at your computer for 12 hours a day and never take a break, your team members will see this as an example of what to strive for, and mirror your own unhealthy behaviour.

Experts suggest that you check-in with yourself regularly to make sure that you are leading by example. If you’re feeling burnt out, chances are your team is feeling the same as well, and it may be time to implement changes.


Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and provided as reference material only. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical practitioner.