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What Church Leaders Can Do To Reduce Employee Burnout


In this second of three articles on the recent Gallup study on employee burnout, we explore the role church leaders and supervisors play in reducing and preventing staff burnout.

Gallup’s research shows that a crucial element in whether or not workers experience burnout on the job is how supervisors treat their employees. Supervisors are responsible for fostering positive employee experiences and addressing stressors at work. It’s their duty to set clear expectations, remove barriers, facilitate collaboration and ensure that employees feel fully supported to do their best work. How employees feel about their job is largely on the shoulders of supervisors and executive leaders.

How Church Leaders Can Help Stop Burnout Before It Starts

Fortunately, burnout isn’t irreversible, and there are steps church leaders can take to prevent it. After addressing the five main causes of burnout identified in our previous article, Gallup’s survey suggests five additional things that leaders can do that are each highly correlated with reducing burnout:

  1. Listen to work-related problems.

The best way to prevent employee burnout is having a leader who actively listens to work-related problems. Employees whose supervisor is always willing to listen to their problems are 62% less likely to be burned out. Listening to and understanding employees’ needs is the first step in supporting them. Not only do church staff need to know that their leaders will listen to and address their problems, but they also want to feel like their leaders care about them.

  1. Encourage teamwork.

Peers and coworkers provide another line of emotional and physical support for employees who are struggling. Other church staff often understand the stress of a particular job better than leaders do, and are in a better position to help. It’s the responsibility of church leaders to create an environment where teamwork thrives, people help one another, and everyone has someone who is willing to listen to them.

  1. Make everyone’s opinion count.

Church leaders should actively solicit employees’ opinions and ideas. When church staff feel like their opinions are welcome and make a difference, they feel included and begin taking more responsibility for their performance. Being heard reduces burnout because it gives employees a feeling of control over the forces that influence their work, rather than feeling like work is something that they are required to do or that just happens to them.

  1. Make work purposeful.

Employees are significantly less likely to be burned out when they can connect their work to their company’s mission or purpose in a way that makes their job feel important. People do not just go to work for a paycheck; they want to find meaning in what they do. Church leaders must do more than point to the mission statement on the wall — they must show how their staff that their contributions make a difference in two worlds, the here and the hereafter.

  1. Focus on strengths-based feedback, development, and assignments.

Employees who have the opportunity to do what they do best are 57% less likely to frequently experience burnout. Church leaders get the best out of their staff when they can identify what those people do best, praise them for it, and help move them into assignments, opportunities, and partnerships that maximize their natural talents. The enthusiasm and energy associated with strengths-based work reduces stress and helps employees focus on success rather than seeing their job as a burden.

Don’t forget, church leaders can experience burnout as well, maybe even more so. Executive staff have the same fundamental needs as the employees they supervise and these needs are often neglected in the local church. It is role of the lay members of the church’s governance — trustees, elders, committees, and teams to provide the support, counsel, and resources to prevent staff leader burnout.

While church leaders play a primary role in reducing staff burnout, there are other external workplace factors that can either support or undercut the best leadership. In the final article of this series, we explore nine environmental factors that organizational leaders and can focus on to help prevent employee burnout.

For more information go to Gallup.com

Posted on October 1, 2019

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5