Burnout: How to Keep Your Support Team from Cracking

Here are some top tips and tricks for keeping your team from fizzling out.

Zight | October 24, 2017 | 4 min read time

Article Last Updated: June 29, 2023

Burnout: How to Keep Your Support Team from Cracking

Burnout is a term that gets thrown around a lot, and while the jury’s still out on what exactly burnout means, we can all agree burnout is so much deeper than just getting tired or needing a good night’s sleep and is a varying combination of exhaustion, cynicism and reduced personal achievement.

Because of the volume of customer complaints, questions and support that your customer service team handles on a daily basis, they’re in a prime spot for burnout. And bottom line? Because they interface with the customer everyday, they’re the last people on your team you want burning out. If you’ve ever faced burnout yourself, you know just how long it can take (we’re talking years) to bounce back.

The key? Prevent burnout before it happens.

Here are some top tips and tricks for keeping your team from fizzling out.

Acknowledge that Stress is a Habit

Stress is a habit just like brushing your teeth and hitting the snooze button. Dutch researcher and expert on stress management Dr. Paul Koeck highlights the fact that in order to break the habit of stress, you have to develop a new daily habit that fights it. It’s not enough to go to a therapist once a week and then get pummelled by your job the other 4 days. This means your team needs daily access to tools that help reconnect their brain with the goal of a happy, balanced life. Meditation and even “just sitting there” for 10 minutes in the morning without looking at a phone, laptop or other distractions will help calm the mind and set the right tone for the day ahead.

Be Aware That Burnout is Contagious

If your support team is feeling connected, experiencing general well-being and positivity about their job, their coworkers probably feel the same way!

In a recent Gallup report that surveyed 105 teams over six three-month periods, individual team members who reported experiencing well-being at work were 20% more likely to have other team members who also reported thriving six months later. This means the happier individuals feel, the happier the entire team will be!

Unfortunately, the same is true for burnout so be mindful of supporting individual well-being.

Let Them “Switch Off” Early

Customer support can be grueling and context switching (going from one social setting to the next) takes a serious toll on a person’s happiness as well as productivity. Context switching hits women even harder than men, since women are twice as likely than men to experience more than 20 switches a day between, work, social and family roles. With every switch, the brain has to move from automatic to deliberative each time.

A simple solution? Allow your team to pack up early before they officially clock out to help them wind down and move more intentionally from one role to another. A few minutes can go a long way!

Don’t Expect Answers After Hours

This goes for your organization’s C-Level executives as well. By constantly being “on” and never tuning work out, team members don’t have the “room” in their brains to slow down and process the day’s information, reflect, and glean insights that help them arrive at better decision making. Never “turning off” kills productivity and creativity by making us less effective and unable to “hold one thought at once” which creativity requires. Make it a mandatory rule that when the team leaves, mentally they also check out.

If this means changing scheduling to guarantee support coverage, consider offering this to your team.

Provide Designated Socializing Spots

…and insist that the team uses it!

Socializing is a great stress-reducer with big brain benefits that can fight against burnout now and are proven to reduce dementia in later. Companies like Samsung and Google have led the charge and created “overlap zones” where employees are expected to meet and interact. If you have the budget for a ping pong table, go for it! No budget? Create a Slack channel where customer support staff can share jokes, GIFs and come up for air throughout their day (or take it beyond support so the whole company can).

We’d love to know more about how you’re helping your customer support team fight burnout. This is a topic near and dear to our heart, so if you have any suggestions that have worked to keep your team happy – please share in the comments below!

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