In the run up to World Mental Health Day Julie Delaforce argues businesses need to give more backup to community managers or risk burnout.
Do you know what happens when you’re in the middle of giving birth and your midwife’s shift finishes? She goes home. The same is true for almost any professional whose work operates 24/7. Yet in the world of community and social media management managers lament that they are “always on”, “the job never ends”, and “the Internet doesn’t sleep”.
Few community and social media managers deal with life and death situations (and massive credit to those who do). So, why have we created the expectation that we’re always on? It’s a behaviour that’s not expected in other industries, even those that do operate 24/7 such as mining, hospitality, nursing, and law enforcement. And what can we do about it now?
What is burnout?
First, it’s important to recognise that burnout is different from everyday stress.
Burnout is caused by excessive and prolonged stress that can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, distress, exhaustion, and a lack of enthusiasm and motivation. In extreme cases, suicidal ideation may occur.
If you’re always tired, have trouble sleeping, often get sick, are increasingly irritable or cynical, or feeling hopeless, you’re in danger of burning out and should get help. But even if you’re not burning out, you shouldn’t have to wait until you’re on the edge to get help.
Peace of mind
The expectation that community and social media managers should always be plugged in is unreasonable and unfair. Everyone deserves to have a quiet dinner with their loved ones or to go away for the weekend; to be able to power down, and not check in every few hours or right before bed; and to trust that someone else has things under control.
How valuable are your work and time?
If your company does not see the value in hiring additional support, you need to ask yourself how you can better demonstrate the value of your role. Why doesn’t the company want to engage with consumers at 10pm on a weeknight, or 3pm on a Saturday? What are the risks of failing to monitor your community outside of standard business hours? Create a business case for why you need resourcing.
The last thing you should be doing is working for free. Working for free is a terrible way of getting your company to see the value in what you do. How can your organisation develop an accurate ROI model if they’re not calculating the hours you’re working for free? You may be thinking it’s not that much, but perform an experiment: track all the minutes you take to check on your communities outside of your official working hours. It adds up.
There are 168 hours in a week, a single community manager can’t possibly manage an audience 24/7. Particularly in the lead up to World Mental Health Day, I hope more companies identify this.
- Julie Delaforce is general manager, Quiip
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