As we find ourselves more than halfway through the year, the demands of volunteer board members continue to intensify. Navigating the complexities of the post-pandemic landscape while managing budgets and strategic decisions in addition to a full-time career can lead to burnout among even the most dedicated board members. To ensure the well-being and effectiveness of your organization’s board of directors, it’s important to implement strategies that prevent burnout during busy and challenging periods. Here are four effective approaches for board members during times of stress, change, or unknowns.
Acknowledge that burnout is normal
Acknowledging the reality of burnout is the first step toward preventing it. While we have surpassed the three-year mark since the start of the pandemic, the transition back to in-person engagement and the introduction of hybrid work environments have brought about new challenges. As association leaders, it is important to recognize that the past few years have been a period of adjustment and board members are not exempt from experiencing heightened stress as a result.
Foster open conversations
Create an environment where open conversations about burnout are encouraged and accepted to make a significant difference for board members. Make an effort to initiate discussions during board meetings about burnout, what might be causing it, and identify the help board members need to do their volunteer role effectively. Better yet, organize separate sessions dedicated to mental health and well-being.
Recognize achievements and provide incentives
Another effective way to prevent burnout is by offering incentives and recognition to show appreciation for board members’ dedication and hard work, which can go a long way in boosting morale and increasing motivation. Use the association’s website, newsletter, social media, publications, and emails to regularly celebrate board member achievements – personally and professionally. Additionally, offer more opportunities for professional development, such as workshops with relevant topics and training or leadership programs to further the growth of the board.
Incorporate fresh activities into board meetings
Break up routine board meetings and association business by adding new and engaging activities to agendas. Consider implementing the following activities into your meeting format:
- Invite guest speakers with diverse backgrounds to talk about relevant association or leadership topics with the board
- Set time aside for brainstorming sessions focused on creative problem-solving and strategic planning
- Host a roundtable discussion on a topic of the board’s choice
- Carve out part of the meeting time for small-group or partner activities to encourage active participation and allow board members to strengthen their connections with one another
Above all, one of the best things to do is remember and reinforce the value and impact board members make on the association in the short and long term. By implementing these strategies, the board of directors remains motivated and equipped to drive successful outcomes for the organization.
Gina Brennan is in Corporate Marketing at Smithbucklin.