prevent burnout

December 8, 2022

Episode #035: 6 Ways to Prevent Burnout in Nonprofits

The last 2+ years have been undeniably challenging, and many nonprofit leaders have struggled to keep a sense of passion for their work. Even when you love what you do like Tobi, you’re not immune to the symptoms of burnout and fatigue. 

Prevent Burnout by Recognizing It 

First of all, what is burnout? Tobi shares a definition from the World Health Organization, and examines the three main indicators to watch out for. 

Tobi also shares a great resource from  Christina Maslach, one of the world’s preeminent researchers on burnout in the workplace. Maslach has identified five levels of people’s work experience, and this helps us understand the phenomenon with more subtlety.  

Tobi’s Top Tips to Prevent Burnout 

Tobi shares six practical and doable steps to prevent burnout before it sets in and increase your effectiveness at work.  

Most importantly, Tobi reminds you to build these burnout busting techniques into your annual strategic plan, so you (and your team) remember to practice them on a regular basis.   

Highlights on How to Prevent Burnout 

00:00:59 Tobi starts with a shout-out and some specific instructions to VisionWeek participants, who are working hard to create a 12-month volunteer engagement plan in just five days. VisionWeekers, you are AWESOME! 

00:02:43 Tobi shares her own recent experience with professional burnout, because even when you love your job, you can still start to feel fatigued and disengaged. Good news: you can overcome these feelings AND guard against them with a few simple tips!  

00:04:29 “Burnout” is a term that gets used for a lot of things, but did you know there’s actually a list of symptoms from the World Health Organization? Tobi describes those symptoms so you know the warning signs, and shares a handy self-assessment tool from the Harvard Business Review. 

00:12:45 Tobi emphasizes the importance of including action steps to prevent burnout in your strategic plan for the year. If it’s part of the plan, you’ll have a regular reminder and the accountability to practice these techniques and not overextend yourself.  

00:13:06 Tobi gives you her top 6 tips to prevent burnout, save time and energy, and accomplish your organization’s most important goals.   

Quotes on How to Prevent Burnout 

“I have to tell you, preventing burnout doesn’t happen just because we wish it were. It starts with a plan to prevent burnout.” 

“Every strategic plan going forward needs a wellness plan as part of it. Maybe it’s an appendix, maybe it’s part of the full plan, but it just feels like it’s necessary now. 

“Work with your team, your volunteer team, and your coworkers to identify what gives them energy and what depletes it. It’s a great conversation to have. And then build a plan to double down on anything that promotes energy. 

People become sick. People change jobs. People start school. People have a downturn or upswing in their business. There are a million reasons why volunteering might be more challenging for someone throughout their time with you, so it’s a good time to sit down and see if you can help work through it and suggest ideas.” 

If we notice someone around us is just not getting the same level of work they’d been getting, there might be something going on. So, we need to research and find out. Talk to people, and educate everybody on these and make it okay to talk about them openly.” 

“People-to-people work is challenging, especially in a pandemic. Your identity is wrapped up in your work as a leader of volunteers or a leader of a volunteer-involving organization, your job is to engage the community in making change. And when you can’t do that, that doesn’t feel good.” 

Want More? Check out Our Time + Talent Podcast!

Whether you’re looking for solutions, inspiration, or just want to hear what others are doing to successfully engage volunteers, Time + Talent is the podcast for leaders of volunteers.

Co-hosts Tobi Johnson, MA, CVA and Jennifer Bennett, CVA bring you uplifting and insightful conversations with thought leaders and volunteer management practitioners who are redefining their roles, and the roles of volunteers.


About the Show

Nonprofit leadership author, trainer, consultant, and volunteer management expert Tobi Johnson shares weekly tips to help charities build, grow, and scale exceptional volunteer teams. Discover how your nonprofit can effectively coordinate volunteers who are reliable, equipped, and ready to help you bring about BIG change for the better.

If you’re ready to ditch the stress and harness the power of people to fuel your good work, you’re in exactly the right place!

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