Employee burnout is a trending conversation, and for good reason. When staff becomes burnt out, they are no longer able to dedicate the mental resources necessary to the work their skills and experience prepare them to do.
Burnout takes a toll on your team, and it also risks the overall health of your business. Identifying burnout, and cultivating tools to prevent or mitigate it, is therefore essential for law firms and legal departments.
How to Tell If Your Team is Facing Burnout
Burnout produces characteristic signs from professionals, including lawyers and legal support staff. These signs include:
- Decreased Productivity and Quality of Work.
If your staff are completing fewer tasks than usual, or are seeking more deadline extensions, don’t assume they’ve simply become lazy. Often, staff do not want to slow down, but the effects of burnout force this response. They’re trying to keep up, but they’re slowly losing the ability to do so.
- Uncharacteristic or Unexpected Disengagement.
You may remember a time when your legal team buzzed with suggestions, feedback, and collaborative approaches to new challenges – and you may wonder where all that energy went.
A team that no longer seems excited about their work may be overwhelmed. A lack of engagement or motivation is often a sign that every available unit of energy is being spent on staying afloat, leaving nothing left for innovation or for simply enjoying the task at hand.
- Increased Cynicism.
Increased cynicism and complaints often go hand-in-hand with sudden disengagement. Your lawyers and legal support staff used to be interested and engaged, but now they’re deciding at the outset that the task at hand is too big or that your client has no chance.
Burnout contributes to cynicism by sapping the energy staff have to seek alternate approaches or simply stay optimistic. Burnout saps mental and physical energy, leaving your staff feeling as if they’re slowly being crushed by their work instead of mastering it.
Helping Your Team Recover from Burnout
Recovery from burnout takes time. Staff may need a reduced workload, and they will need encouragement to take extra time to rest and recover, rather than adopting new tasks.
One of the best ways to provide the support a burned-out team needs is to hire temporary workers. A temporary attorney can take on some, or all, of the work that is currently overburdening your core staff. This gives your team time to rest and recover, while still ensuring that your clients’ matters are handled effectively.
Relieve Your Team’s Stress
At Assigned Counsel, our attorney recruiters once worked as attorneys. We recognize the signs of burnout, and we’re here to help you fight them. Contact us today to learn more.