Getting burned out from a job occurs in every industry, from the corner office to the assembly line to the sales floor.

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Like any job, working for or running an MSP has its pluses and minuses. It’s uplifting to see clients thriving and saving money thanks to the superior technology solutions you’ve helped put in place and support.

However, supporting customers comes with plenty of challenges. You’re often interacting with them when they’re unhappy because something’s not working correctly or they’re in a crisis. Tempers are short, emotions are raw, and you’re staring at seemingly unachievable deadlines.

And then there’s the tedious nature of some tasks that could suck the will to live out of the cheeriest workers. Repeating the same things over and over certainly isn’t inspiring, but sometimes you’ve just got to provision 100 endpoints or set up 50 new Office365 accounts day after day.

Burnout Is a Real Problem 

Getting burned out from your job isn’t something just for entitled millennials. It occurs in every industry, from the corner office to the assembly line to the sales floor. But it’s most common in jobs that require monotonous work, helping people and heavy workloads.

While it’s not an actual medical condition, the International Classification of Diseases includes it as an “occupational phenomenon.”

“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: 

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion

  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job

  • reduced professional efficacy”

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs you might be experiencing burnout include:

  • Becoming cynical or critical at work

  • Having to drag yourself to work and having trouble getting started

  • Becoming irritable with coworkers, customers or clients

  • Lacking energy to be consistently productive

  • Lacking satisfaction from your achievements and feeling disillusioned about your job

It can also manifest itself in physical symptoms, including changing sleep patterns, headaches, and digestive issues. If left unaddressed, it can create real health issues, plus some sufferers use food, drugs and alcohol to improve moods or just become numb to it all.

Taking Burnout Seriously 

Both employees and their managers must acknowledge that there is a real risk of staff getting burned out. This won’t just result in some grumpy workers; it also can have a real impact on the business itself.

Burned-out staff are more likely to make careless mistakes, work slower and have negative interactions with customers. This can lead to real impacts on customer satisfaction, as customers are counting on their MSP to perform flawlessly and professionally.

There is also a much higher likelihood of staff calling it quits when they “hit the wall.” This leaves MSPs in a lurch, as they not only lose the manpower, but they also see experience and institutional knowledge walking out the door. They’ll need to spend time and money recruiting and training replacements while suffering productivity and performance hits in the interim. Not to mention that high staff turnover could shake the confidence of clients looking for a stable MSP partner.

Adopting Proactive Prevention  

In our industry, we are constantly urging–if not lecturing–our clients to put protections in place before a problem occurs. We list off the numerous threats that can provide irreparable damage to a client’s operations, livelihood and reputation–from phishing to malware to hacked data being sold on the Dark Web.

We can take the same approach to protecting the mental health of our staff and ourselves by creating environments that reduce the likelihood of burnout and are prepared to deal with it when it occurs. This requires a parallel strategy of creating a workplace where managers take a proactive interest in the emotional well-being of employees while simultaneously leveraging resources that reduce the causes of burnout to begin with.

Managing Workloads 

The most common driver for employee burnout is feeling overworked and overwhelmed. While there may occasionally be period of time where workers need to “take one for the team,” that cannot be standard operating procedure.

Staff must be given a reasonable workload and be encouraged to take breaks, vacations, sick days, etc., to keep themselves mentally engaged and content with their role. Work-life balance shouldn’t just be a talking point but a fundamental company value to retain valuable employees.

Diversifying the Employee Experience 

While workers obviously develop expertise in certain areas that make them more efficient over time, it’s unfair to force employees to do the same exact thing for months or years on end. New challenges and opportunities are invigorating to staff.

Providing opportunities for learning new skills and trying new things will not only increase morale, but also create a more flexible workforce. Cross-training gives you a larger pool of talent to draw from when projects need extra hands and minds.

As an added bonus, it shows employees you’re willing to invest in them and gives them the chance to move into different roles or take on new challenges.

Of course, organizing “training” might seem like a time-consuming hassle, but Kaseya University is a one-stop-shop for getting staff the information and certifications they need to advance their careers and round out their technical chops.

Lighten the Load through Automation 

Repetitive tasks are a leading cause of burnout. Putting “Tab A” into “Slot B” over and over again isn’t going to be very fulfilling for anyone. Luckily, we live in a golden age of technological solutions turning the mundane chores of yesterday into the automated routines of tomorrow.

Leveraging a common technology stack that facilitates automation of common IT processes–such as network discovery, security update deployment and configuration–along with remediation of incidents and other aspects of IT management is a gamechanger. Staff can keep their heads above water and focus on higher-value-add tasks that advance your MSP’s strategy.

Plus, when everything is available through the same interface, staff aren’t burdened with having to master multiple systems and deal with the switching costs that comes from toggling between platforms. Everything can be available from a single, comprehensive dashboard that has the context and data required to quickly resolve customer issues.

Bosses Get Burned out, Too 

Don’t think we’ve forgotten about management. Burnout can happen to anyone. But investing in best-in-class, comprehensive solutions makes everything easier and frees senior management up from worrying about day-to-day issues.

Give yourself some self-care and get energized about expanding your portfolio into exciting new solution spaces as well as new client accounts. With a culture that’s invested in employee satisfaction and a robust solution stack handling much of the heavy lifting, a world of opportunity awaits.

Jim Lippie is GM & SVP, Partner Development.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.


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