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Is Your NGO Experiencing Burnout

Staff burnout is not reserved for those working in the corporate world, it is a real possibility for those who endeavour to pursue the mission of non-profits. According to LabManager:

Burnout strikes employees when they have exhausted their physical or emotional strength. This usually occurs as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. Sometimes the cause is the work environment. Stressful jobs, lack of support and resources, and tight deadlines can all contribute to burnout”

This is a reality that leaders of NGO’s must take into consideration when pursuing the organization’s social mission especially as the emotional strength of workers is regularly tested by the men, women, children, and even animals whose lives can often depend on your NGO.

Although burnout is not always avoidable, being able to understand, identify and manage burnout is important. Burnout can manifest itself the following ways:

  • Frustration or indifference toward work
  • Persistent irritability
  • Anger, sarcasm, or being argumentative
  • Exhaustion
  • Absenteeism

To avoid burnout, we suggest, among other things, knowing when and how to take a break:

Schedule Downtime

It is crucial for NGOs to have scheduled downtime between planned projects or any major initiative even if it’s a half a day to recover before jumping into the next big thing.

Prioritize and focus on what’s really important and be sure to include allocate time for tasks that are not driven by deadlines and stressful decisions.

Really, Really Take a Break

When you take a break, really take a break. In the NGO world, it can be challenging to turn off all channels of work communication. We find ourselves still taking ‘short calls’, responding to a ‘few’ messages and dropping by just to see how things are going.

These small tasks add up and you can find yourself flustered, worried and thinking about work while on vacation and this can severely affect your much-deserved break.  This is a trap that many of us find ourselves in, so be sure to really disconnect, no emails, no calls and no visits (unless it is a real emergency).

Make Your Health a Priority

One consequence of working at an NGO is that we seek the well-being of those in need before we ensure our own. We postpone doctor appointments because of a current case or event at work which we believe we cannot miss. We even come to work sick because someone is depending on us to complete a task.

Putting your health first ensures that you prevent burnout and are in the best frame of physical and mental health to be able to help others and be productive in order to achieve your NGO’s social mission.

In addition, non-profit leaders can also play a role by encouraging staff to make their healthcare a priority and to speak out if they feel overwhelmed on the job.

How does your NGO prevent burnout? We’d love to get your feedback in the comment section below.

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