To Hustle Or Not To Hustle: Beating Burnout In Fast-Growing Organisations
The start-up ecosystem has always been known for its hustle culture, the rising attrition rates and the hire-fire model of work. But shifting talent priorities have led to emphasis on well-being, and work-life balance, away from the ‘hustle culture’.
Terms such as ‘productivity paranoia’ were coined post the pandemic, as new work models such as work-from-home led to little visibility of teams functioning.
Leaders were left wondering whether people are really engaged and delivering. Contrary to this belief, fast-growing companies can achieve their goals at speed and scale without compromising employees’ work-life balance, by changing the ways of working and sensitizing leaders. In a recent webcast, Gautam Saraf, CHRO, FnP and Anilaja Durbha, Assistant Manager, Customer Success, Keka discuss how.
The changing ways of working
“Not being present in front is creating a dearth in peoples’ mind”, believes Gautam Saraf, CHRO, FnP. Remote working has led to micromanagement. Anilaja Durbha, Assistant Manager, Customer Success, Keka, shares an example wherein they developed a productivity tracker tool that allowed leaders and managers to visibly monitor employees’ work.
After rolling it out to a few customers, they realised trust issues arose between employee and employer, leading to employee anxiety and dissatisfaction.
“Trust is a qualitative factor, we should channel this into measurable metrics for the team. We reworked the ‘how’ of measuring employee performance and framed it around trust”, shares Anilaja.
Indeed, in today’s knowledge economy, employees are core company assets, and if trust is lost, companies will lose employees to competition.
How to tackle employee burnout and build trust?
It is up to leaders to build and maintain trust. Grinding hours is a sign of mistrust and lack of clarity, often leading to employee burnout. Burnout also results when the job is not rewarding, or when employees are not taking care of themselves. Some of the ways to manage burnout are:
- Outline expectations clearly, map roles with right people.
- Identify great performers and link rewards and appreciation around achievements.
- Identify and analyse attrition reasons, understand employee motivators and growth impetus. Gautam advises, “If people can figure out the purpose and value around the work, and are able to contribute and achieve personal and professional aspirations, these will keep people excited and engaged.”
- Curate L&D channels for employee development, career development, and new avenues to remain excited and strive to learn. Classroom plus on-the-job learning can be enabled through tech and social media. For example, FnP’s Road-to-Ace initiative involves pick up any topic and curating a “what do you mean” series on it. Other L&D tools are microlearning platforms, small videos, productivity mailers, book anecdotes, etc. “We ask employees, what would they like to learn and how can we help,” shares Gautam. Employees can pick and choose, and are encouraged to achieve personal goals and professional learning goals.
- Garner employee feedback through connects such as leadership connect, new-joiner connect, pulse check, feedback, etc. irrespective of work locations, and also consumer feedback through MPS. ‘Stay Connected’ is Gautam’s mantra.
- Communicate policy, talk about work-life balance, encourage people to take leaves, provide flexibility, and address anomalies and grievances.
- Robust PMS to enable managers to have continuous tool-based performance tracking, SMART goal setting, etc. Providing employees with a self-service module to update progress, seek guidance, etc. can help recognize, reward and promote at the right time
- Open communication with leadership about expectations, outcomes, vision, etc. while ensuring distillation down the levels. Gautam shares how walking meetings at FnP allow leaders to share thoughts, take feedback, and connect the dots to feed into the organizational DNA.
In hybrid working, people come to work not just for work, but for the people around. So it is all about how meaningful work is, so that people keenly look forward to work and workplace. It all relates to cultivating a culture of openness, transparency and trust.
“40% employees never look back at their goals and KRAs in excel sheets”, shares Anilaja.
Tech as an enabler to foster trust
Using automation platforms will help track employees’ happiness, work-life balance, growth, manager relationships, etc. without manual dependence. A performance management system with goal-tracking and timely feedback will help employees build a vision around “what I have achieved till now”, “what I will achieve going forward”, and “where am I lacking”. Tech can help personalise rewards and recognition, delivered at the right time in the right mode (not just monetary). “For example, a shout-out on the wall may help more than a gift” shares Gautam.
Also, recognising the person who completes work during work hours rather than grinding post-work hours, is important to tackle burnout. “Show the vision to people and tell them you care about them. Business growth will happen when you take care of customer experience and employee experience”, says Anilaja.
A culture of wellbeing
Looking at work from a “Why” perspective can help people tackle slacks in motivation. Organizations must build psychological safety by encouraging people to learn new things and talk openly with their managers. Anilaja shares, “Corporate life has a certain image to portray- a 9-5 environment. This perspective changed when I joined Keka, because the hierarchy of management is only in the professional space, when you want to talk and walk up to the CEO, he is open to give suggestions and ideas”.
A healthy space is one where employees are treated equally, stereotypes are broken, and hierarchy is aimed at knowledge transfer and growth. Gautam agrees that culture is about transparency, trust,clarity and communication. “What do you believe in?”, is the key, believes Gautam.
Leaders should learn to connect, allow people to do different things in different ways, and extend support. This will help employees own up and feel responsible to stretch for certain assignments, or allow them to go on leave without fear of what is happening back at work. Leaders build the culture, and for this, they must walk the talk to live the values.