New Strategies to Help Languishing Employees

Nearly two and a half years into the pandemic, we’re still talking about the impact of COVID-19 on employees. And despite the focus with which Human Resources departments are tackling this issue, we still do not have a playbook to solve for this issue or clear movement to make it better. From the “Great Resignation” to “Quiet Quitting” employee engagement is suffering as a result of burnout and languishing.

This foggy mental state can be a result of prolonged burnout, or its early onset, and can be particularly devastating to not only to employee productivity, but also to their overall happiness and life satisfaction. It’s an alarm system signaling that changes are needed to get on a better path to flourish.

At AJO, we’ve been working to equip clients with creative new tools and strategies to overcome employee languishing, by empowering our coaches to become the catalysts for change. Recognizing that our coaches are on the “front line” of this critical issue, we recently brought a group of nearly 20 executive coaches together to participate in a facilitated, two-part projective activity. With an emphasis on the importance of words and expression, they were asked to reflect on their own personal feelings and professional experiences with feelings of burnout and languishing. Next, the group brainstormed and shared new strategies and insights to help guide leaders to recognize the signs and impact of languishing in the workplace and set a course for improvement.

5 Steps to Move Beyond a State of Languish

While it is easier said than done, to overcome burnout and a state of languishing we need to guide employees to put their personal needs first, to find a happier state upon which they can rebuild. Following are some new strategies that our coaches discussed and have implemented with clients to help to open the door so employees can flourish:

  1. Practice resilience strategies: When we engage in positive self-affirmation or experience things outside of our normal routine, it encourages a positive expectation of self and others. Practicing gratitude in particular showcases our ability to strive for our best version of ourselves.
  2. Set boundaries: Understanding how to set boundaries means being mindful of your mental and physical bandwidth as well as those around you. Crossing a line with a fellow employee, family member or friend, for example, can impact the established relationship and can lead to further burnout. When boundaries are put in place, it creates a common understanding between individuals, thus reducing misaligned expectations.
  3. Communicate more: Any form of communication is vital to the established or current relationship, whether interpersonally, verbal or nonverbal. The way that we communicate allows us to connect with others based on shared feelings, beliefs or ideals. Finding commonality in others can be a powerful, reassuring thing.
  4. Become more self-aware: Embracing a state of self-awareness allows you to be honest with yourself and your feelings. When we engage in higher levels of creativity, we are reframing setbacks and challenging ourselves to be the best version that we can be.
  5. Recognize what’s in (and not in) your control: With any situation that arises, it is always important to take a step back and reflect on what you have learned. Learning from personal or peer-related mistakes, encourages recognition of your capabilities and how you can best benefit yourself and those around you. Reflect on things you may do differently in the future, giving yourself grace without feeling regret. Be clear, as well, with yourself on those areas that may have been unavoidable. Feeling guilt for things you cannot control will only perpetuate languish.

Moving from languishing to flourishing may initially seem challenging, but it is clearly worth the effort. Help employees set time aside to map out how they can progress in and outside the workplace, and do so with intention. You can also offer this quick scaling self-assessment to employees so they can get a better understanding of where they are in terms of burnout, or this flourishing scale for identifying their current flourishing state.

Taking the necessary time to help yourself, as well as your colleagues and employees, will not only push you to new heights but also improve your workplace culture. For more information on workplace culture or intention in the workplace check out our other blogs here.

This blog was created by the AJO team with insights from Debbie Godfrey, Ph.D., an AJO executive coach and health and wellness coach expert. 

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Founded on core family values and a commitment to building strong, long-lasting partnerships, AJO approaches its work with confidence and expertise that only comes with over 40 years in the business. Working with companies of all sizes, needs and budgets, AJO develops high-performing teams and global leaders for organizational success.