In 2019, for the first time, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized workplace “burnout” as an occupational phenomenon. WHO said burnout can be classified by three factors: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.
Burnout has long been a problem in the financial advisory industry (a 2019 survey found that 71% of financial advisors said they experience moderate or high negative stress, compared to 63% of investors), but during this COVID-19 era, burnout is more prevalent than ever. An April 2020 Society for Human Resource Management survey found that 23% of U.S. workers report often feeling “down, depressed, or hopeless.”
The normal stressors that come with the financial planning profession are all amplified right now. The stressors include:
- Fee compression
- Fluctuating markets
- Shrinking margins
- Increasing competition
- Financial anxiety around the profitability of one’s business and growth trajectory
- Wearing several hats running a business
- Trying to do time management
- Dealing with long, unpredictable work hours, and finding work-life balance
And with parents — particularly women — juggling homeschooling, trying to meet deadlines while working remotely, and trying to buy groceries safely and manage their household, “work-life balance” is basically a fairy tale.
So how can we combat this seemingly unsurmountable problem of burnout? Here, we provide some tips on how to manage this chronic issue.
1. Check in with yourself and identify where the stress is coming from.
Is it coming from your clients’ demands and anxiety? The stress of running a business? Lack of support? Boredom? Identify the source(s) and strategize. Try outsourcing some of the work and/or join a supportive network like Equita — which brings us to number 2.
2. Join a supportive community like Equita.
We aren’t allowed to assemble in-person as a result of COVID-19, but Equita has a robust virtual community. We have weekly calls you can hop on if you are looking for community support, we have a group of like-minded women to reach out to by phone or email anytime you want to vent, cry, get support, or share resources and ideas. When it comes to weathering the storm from a financial perspective, Equita also offers resources — such as a business coach, marketing team, and portfolio team — that are focused on helping Equita Members find opportunities so they can stay on track and excel during this challenging time.
3. Design the job you want.
Boredom is a huge contributing factor to burnout. Craft a job that focuses on the activities you enjoy. Identify the specific tasks that you don’t like and get rid of them. Clarify your role and hire someone who thrives in the areas of your business that aren’t your forte.
4. Focus on the things you can control.
You can’t control the markets, but you can control other things in your life. For instance, you can define your mission and goals for the year. This clarity will make work objectives more manageable.
5. As hard as it is, try to live in the moment.
We can’t change the past, and the future isn’t here yet. All we can do is focus on the here and now. Try to practice mindfulness and/or meditate.
6. Get enough sleep and exercise regularly.
Your physical health is connected to your mental health. Getting enough sleep and exercise will help immensely.
7. Talk to your team about it.
Whether you have an employer or business partner, let them know how you are feeling. At Equita, we know there’s power in community, and there will be times when we need to lean — hard — on each other. No one can do it all themselves. Find areas for flexibility: Ask if you can push back any deadlines or if any of your team members can take on some of the work.
8. Take a break from work.
Right now, those of us who still have jobs are grateful that we can still work — but we are also exhausted and facing different stressors. You can have all these conflicting emotions at the same time. No matter the circumstances, working too much will lead to burnout. So take a break from work — even if it’s just a few hours. And make sure to avoid your phone and computer, too, for those few hours.
9. Get more time-efficient and minimize distractions.
By defining your goals and focusing for a specific block of time, you can reduce your work hours overall.
10. Invest in technology.
Tech can help you save time and reduce stress by automating certain tasks.
11. Give yourself a break and acknowledge you’re human like the rest of us.
This is an unprecedented time for all of us. Cut yourself some slack and take care of yourself.
Equita Financial Network is dedicated to helping women financial advisors grow and thrive in the industry. If you’d like to learn more, contact us today.