As we considered the findings of the burnout study and addressed hours worked, we first examined possible solutions focused on volume and capacity at the organizational level. When we consider the same dials of volume and capacity at the individual level, it is in the context of both the design of the operation and its culture. Individual volumes that allow for an optimal work-life balance will be contingent on a variety of factors that include but are not limited to capacity, competence, proficiency, efficiency, stress tolerance, focus, and organizational skills of the individuals. Although we consider adjusting the dials of volume and capacity at an individual level, this ability will be influenced by the culture and capabilities of the organization. There must be a level of personal responsibility for one’s own desire to find the proper work-life balance, commitment to the organization, and their individual roles. The company must share by supporting and creating a culture and operation that supports the adjusting of dials at the individual level.
Due to the nature of the industry, one could say that a certain amount of flexibility and stress tolerance is a trait shared by many – restoration professionals appear to be highly resilient. At times, restorers may seem to be at their personal “best” when the chaos hits, and this may be supported by the finding that participants reported elevated feelings of professional efficacy while experiencing elevated feelings of exhaustion and cynicism – which is unique when compared to patterns in other industries.
1. Open Work Environment: Individuals and supervisors should have open communications regarding the volume of assignments.
Supervisor: “I have another job to go over with you”
Team Member: “I am feeling over loaded. I can take a new job next week but could really use a couple more days to get caught up”
Supervisor: “I will give it the job to Joe. Is there anything that I can do to help you?”
This comes with the caveat that managers need to be able to discern what volume a particular role should be able to manage and individual capacity. If someone has demonstrated they are not able to thrive under reasonable circumstances and with proper training, other options may need to be explored.
2. Assignments: The operation should be designed to manage assignment volume appropriately.
3. Workflows Adjustments: In consideration of the labor shortage and the fact that much of the workload within the restoration industry is technical and specialized, there may be opportunity to control workload by challenging the current workflows and reassigning tasks. There are functions and flows within many parts of our organizations that require a combination of training and experience some of which are highly specialized. There are functions that may be easier to train and may have more accessible resources available. Workflow adjustments may be made within the organization as a response to workloads increasing for the individuals. As presented in Part 1, organizational level cross training may give the ability to adjust workflows within, when deemed appropriate in controlling the workloads. An adjustment may also be approached by adding team members or outsourcing. Consider the following examples:
The organization must recognize the concept of capacity within the individual team members. A combination of encouraging, valuing, and investing in the development of individual capacity is a key ingredient to the ability to improve it. Individuals must take ownership of their capacity and understand the economics of it. It is in the best interest of individuals and the organization to increase individuals’ capacities. As one’s capacity grows, the individual can handle more work in less time, essentially reducing hours worked at a given volume of work. Individuals could also increase their value to the company. This basic principle can be observed in the practice of piece rate work, where people are compensated based on output. Although the restoration industry does not lend itself to this method, the economic relationship between output and value is illustrated by it.
Organizations and their members can proactively manage volume and capacity to have a positive effect on the hours worked as a contributing factor to burnout within the industry.
As an industry, we can bring to the forefront the necessary skills, competencies, and practices that help its members enjoy the reward and opportunity offered. In consideration of the burnout study, by adopting these notions not only can we help professionals within our industry better enjoy the benefits and rewards of being a restoration professional there are additional benefits. In a time when finding new people to enter the industry is a challenge, we can better manage with the resources we have, we can help make our organizations stronger financially, and we can better serve those who call upon the industry in times of need. Beyond technical and soft skills, strategic operations, execution, workflow training, theory, and development can be actively pursued.
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