Recreation managers are essential to the success of senior living communities and the wellbeing of their residents. However, they are continually underfunded, overworked, under appreciated, and undervalued - leading to stress, fatigue, and ultimately burnout. How can recreation managers deal with this challenge?
Staff burnout occurs when employees face prolonged exposure to emotional, physical, and mental stressors in the workplace. Heavy workloads, long hours, and high pressure environments are some of the most common causes of staff burnout. Staff may not have the support and resources they need to manage these stressors.
Staff who are burnt out suffer from chronic stress and exhaustion. They may feel like their work has lost meaning or that nothing they do makes a difference. These feelings can lead to low productivity and cause staff to seek new employment. To make matters worse, burnout has been found to be contagious. The low morale caused by high employee turnover can lead other staff members to develop burnout as well.
When Recreation Managers develop burnout, they have less time and energy to spend engaging their residents. The community’s wellness program may suffer as a result. Wellness programs are designed to address residents’ unique needs and ensure that they stay happy and healthy. When staff burnout occurs in senior living, residents will not get the best experience your community has to offer.
Recreation Managers often lack the resources they need to reduce their workplace stress. The industry is undergoing a staffing shortage which means that many Recreation Managers work long hours with few staff to support them. They also face heavy administrative workloads that can be slowed down by outdated processes. Activity departments are often undervalued in senior living communities and given inadequate budgets. The lack of staff and resources can make Recreation Managers prone to burnout.
Recreation Managers are also at a higher risk of developing burnout because they work in a helping profession. Recreation Managers are always considering how they can best fulfill their residents’ needs. They may lose sight of their own well-being because they spend so much time taking care of others. If Recreation Managers don't have the right resources, they can feel like they aren't meeting their residents' needs to the best of their ability. Job dissatisfaction can eventually lead to burnout.
To cope with Recreation Manager burnout, consider these suggestions:
Sometimes, all it takes is talking to others who share your experiences. Joining a group of fellow Recreation Managers, Activity Directors and Life Enrichment Coordinators who understand what you are going through can help you feel less alone. Check out this group which provides activity ideas, shoulders to lean on, answers to your questions and above all, a community to share, laugh and cry with. For new and unique activity ideas from other professionals to ease your decision fatigue, check out this group.
As a Recreation Manager, Activity Director or Life Enrichment Coordinator, you can often lose sight of the impact of your work. It might also be difficult for you to communicate with upper management and demonstrate the impact that recreation and wellness have on your community. Recording and analyzing data such as engagement rates, a variety of program types, and participation can help improve your confidence on the job. Showing these metrics to upper management can also help improve your credibility and even result in increased department budgets. You can learn, step by step, how to record and analyze insights by downloading the eBook The Business of Wellness for Senior Communities
Sometimes, a fresh perspective is required to shift your mindset as a Recreation Manager, Activity Director or Life Enrichment Coordinator. Consider attending a conference, watching free Webinars or completing a new certification. Investing in knowledge can help you gain more confidence in your work and help you serve your residents with new ideas.
There are many digital tools available that can significantly improve your daily operations as a Recreation Manager, Activity Director or Life Enrichment Coordinator. Software platforms such as Welbi can actually automate 40% of your administrative tasks, giving you more time to spend with residents. The platform will also recommend activity ideas that your residents want to engage in, eliminating decision fatigue or feelings of defeat when an activity doesn’t go as planned.
Burnout is not something to take lightly. If you are feeling overwhelmed in your job consider taking some time to yourself. Your health and happiness come first! Consider taking breaks during long shifts to break up the day and making “me” time when you are off the clock. Self-care is extremely important to keep burnout at bay.
We hope these tips come in handy if you are feeling overwhelmed as an Activity Professional. Remember that you are extremely valuable and deserve respect for everything that you do for your community. In addition, Welbi is here to support you and your community on your journey to bring wellness to residents. Subscribe to Welbi’s newsletter for more Activity Professional content and support.
Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.
Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.
Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.
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