Five steps to prevent COVID-19 burnout
The last year has been one of unrelenting change and forced agility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has required all of us to juggle new priorities and stress-triggers, such as helping children with online schooling, working from home, and job loss. With COVID-19 cases surging across the country, and with winter and the holiday season fast approaching, you’re not alone if you or your employees are feeling burned out.
Burnout is typically described as a syndrome from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is generally characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job, and reduced professional efficacy. Symptoms can typically include feeling emotionally and/or physically drained, mentally checked out at work, experiencing excessive pressure to succeed, and the need to hide personal concerns while at work.
Many people may feel stressed and anxious, and burned out as they wrestle with their mental health and caregiving challenges brought on by the pandemic. If burnout is left unaddressed, it can have severe consequences for your health and your career. The pandemic may be with us for the long term. Now is the time to take preventative action.
We suggest five steps you can take to help you and your employees prevent burnout.
1. Openly address the situation.
Talk with your employees and acknowledge the reality of today’s working situation and ask them to tune in to how they feel about it. Discuss the implications for their work and life balance and openly acknowledge the stressors.
2. Explore the health benefits available.
By working with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) like Oasis, a Paychex® Company, you can have access to robust health benefits. This includes Employee Assistance Programs and other programs like stress management to help employees get the support they need with their mental health. Make sure you and your employees know about all of the benefits available.
3. Set boundaries.
Be transparent with employees about what is expected, when, where, and how. Be explicit about the top priorities for you and the business. With many people working from home, employees no longer have a commute that for many signaled the work day’s start and end. The lines of the workday may be blurred. Help employees by reviewing their work schedule and setting boundaries. Be realistic and have honest conversations with employees about their caregiving and home responsibilities, and don’t expect anyone, including yourself, to be available 24/7.
4. It’s time to flex.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced mass experimentation with workplace flexibility, which has led to a recognition that flex working can work for many employers. Experience has shown that may jobs can flex in some way, but consider precisely how specific jobs can flex productively for the business and individual employees to help them be successful during the pandemic and perhaps in the long term.
5. Show up and be present.
When it’s time to connect with your employees, be fully present in the moment by focusing on what they are saying and sharing. Allow time in your schedule for personal interactions and encourage employees to do the same. Many are missing social time with their colleagues. While you might think something as simple as sharing recipes or chatting about the woes of online schooling is a waste of time, it can serve as important socialization and build stronger connections. Acts of kindness don’t have to be huge for others to feel nurtured and understood. Sharing human connections are a more meaningful expression of care and understanding than lavish gifts or big bonuses.
The risk of burnout is real and present in many places of work. Be proactive in doing what you can to prevent burnout. Be a leader who supports your employees through this journey, as one thing is clear from the COVID-19 pandemic: We are all in this together.
You don’t have to go it alone. By working with a PEO, you can get time and money back on your side by outsourcing time-consuming HR administration tasks such as payroll and benefits, and by staying abreast of changing employment laws and regulations and managing risk. Your employees will feel supported, and they will have access to world-class benefits to support them mentally, emotionally, and physically. If you feel a PEO would be right for your business, connect with Oasis for a free, no-obligation consultation by visiting www.OasisAdvantage.com.