Panelists Explore Methods to Combat Employee Burnout, Improve Morale
March 07, 2022

Register for two-part online workshop to learn strategies to rejuvenate staff, March 15 and 29

In a recent ACE webinar, campus leaders and scholars who study employee morale and burnout discussed the problems that arise when the boundaries between our work and personal lives are blurred and what colleges can do to address the issue. This conversation will continue in the upcoming Strategies to Combat Employee Burnout and Improve Morale workshop​.

Hollie Chessman, ACE’s director of research and practice, opened the session by introducing the four panelists:

  • Sian Beilock, Barnard College president and a leading expert on the cognitive science of performance anxiety;
  • David Surratt, University of Oklahoma’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students who leads teams that focus on educational access, leadership and engagement, and personal development and well-being;
  • Margaret Sallee, professor at the University of Buffalo whose research has focused on university work environments, ideal worker norms, work-life balance, and work-family policies;
  • Kevin McClure, professor of higher education at University of North Carolina Wilmington whose work on burnout and morale has been published in The Chronicle of Higher Education and Ed Surge.

Panelists opened by sharing data points that highlighted causes of the current state of worker burnout, unpacking the “Myth of the Ideal Worker,” and detailing how campus leaders can monitor worker well-being on their campuses. The panelists then turned to strategies and practices colleges and universities can take to improve worker morale, such as increasing employee agency, setting reasonable expectations for employees, and prioritizing community connection.

Turning to audience questions, panelists described ways to ensure the voices of people with marginalized backgrounds were heard. They emphasized that faculty and staff should feel empowered to “manage up” concerns they heard from colleagues and direct reports. They also discussed providing options to anonymously share concerns and creating pathways for leaders to analyze staffing trends. The webinar closed with key takeaways, which included using radical empathy, which extends empathy by taking action to create change. Panelists also recommended trusting employees and knowing that low morale and burn-out are solvable problems, which will be a central focus in following webinars. Click ​here to watch the full recording of the Feb. 15 webinar. 

McClure, Sallee, and participants will explore the issues introduced in this webinar in more depth in a two-part workshop, for which there is still time to sign up. The sessions are:

Understanding the Roots and Impact of Burnout and Low Morale, March 15, 12:00-2:00 p.m. ET

Leaders will explore causes of burnout, identify the signs of burnout and demoralization, and explain the consequences for people of different identity groups. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences and connect with peers to better understand how we can move forward.

Taking Action to Create Sustainable Careers in Higher Education, March 29, 12:00-2:00 p.m. ET 

By analyzing ideas for creating workplace conditions that enable workers to flourish, the facilitators will encourage participants to think about how to assess employee engagement and morale. Participants will have opportunities to design individual and organizational solutions to improve workplace culture that they can walk away with.

Click here to learn more and to register. The workshop, which includes, two two-hour online sessions, is $199 for ACE members and $249 for nonmembers.