How HR leaders can prevent employee burnout during a pandemic

By Mark Baggs, Head of Global

employee burnout

As we're back in a lockdown, this means for the majority, it's back working remote. When done right, remote working can increase employee flexibility, free-time and encourage a productive way of working. However, if employee wellbeing isn’t being monitored and communication between teams is lacking, employee burnout can occur.

 

What is employee burnout?

Employee burnout is a result of physical and emotional exhaustion and stress. It typically causes a lack of energy, job dissatisfaction and feelings of distance towards it. This not only impacts the employees suffering with it, but can affect an entire team, the customers and ultimately the business itself.

Employees are at risk of burnout at any time; however, figures have shown since the pandemic, it has become more prevalent. A UK survey carried out late last year found that, among millennials, the top three causes of burnout are working longer hours (59%), inability to separate work and personal life (42%), and an uncertain job market (35%).

Among workers 50 and older, 48% reported not being able to take “a proper break” since the lockdown began. Some common causes can include overwhelming workload, a lack of resources or training to complete tasks and a lack of feedback.

How can HR professionals help ensure employees don’t face burnout?

Check in with employees regularly

The most effective way to ensure this is done regularly enough is to schedule time each week to check in with staff. Making sure staff are aware of the signs of a burnout is also important. Making employees aware that they can communicate if they’re feeling burnt out and advising ways that can help improve mental health can also be valuable.

Offer virtual mental health platforms

With people now encouraged to ‘stay at home’, companies need to be creative when it comes to solutions to help employee wellbeing. Some potential solutions that can work virtually include:

  • Regularly scheduled virtual exercise classes during the workday
  • Free subscriptions to wellness or meditation apps, such as Headspace or Calm
  • Company wide, manager-initiated exercise challenges, and healthy eating clubs
  • Access to content about alleviating stress, wellness and other mental health or wellbeing topics

Bring teams together

Workplace loneliness has previously been described as a serious epidemic, and Covid-19 has made this worse.  

Remote workers are isolated at home, while on-site workers can’t mingle as they used to. So, it’s important to bring the team together regularly so everyone can catch up. This is also a helpful time to provide company updates for employees. When employees are away from the office, it can be easy for them to miss key information regarding the company’s progress.

Not communicating this to staff can cause anxiety and stress. When Covid-19 has meant a great deal of uncertainty for many, keeping staff updated on the company can help provide reassurance, whilst keeping them in the loop of important factors that may impact their work.  

Help manage workloads

Even before the pandemic, 44% of job-related mental health issues were related to unmanageable workloads. When it comes to remote working, without the right tools it can be easy to lose track of employee workload.

Some great project managing tools include Asana, Wrike and Trello. All these platforms allow tasks to be allocated and progress to be monitored. Increasing transparency helps manage employee workload and is key to preventing burnout.

This also comes back to the tip of regular check-ins. Ensuring employees aren’t overworked but asking them, means you can gage stress levels and get a clear idea of how they are handling their work.

Communication is key…

You can put all the necessary measures in place for employees, but the most important factor in preventing employee burnout is communication. Making sure employees aren’t feeling isolated and overworked simply by speaking to them, can be one of the best ways to manage wellbeing.

If you need help ensuring your remote workforce have a clear communications strategy, a PEO like Procorre can help. Request a call back or speak to a member of our team today.

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