Burnout didn’t originate with the pandemic. More of us just started to feel its effects.
The World Health Organization officially recognized burnout as an occupational hazard in 2019. Describing it as, “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” and manifesting as severe exhaustion, job-related cynicism, and decreased performance.
Since then more than half (52%) of respondents surveyed during a recent Indeed study say they feel burnt out, a number that has increased considerably in the last two years.
Now, addressing and preventing burnout is a top priority. Here’s what concerned organizations are doing to ease its impact.
Workplace burnout has many different causes. COVID-19 has exacerbated all of them.
More than two-thirds (67%) of employees report their feelings of burnout have worsened throughout the pandemic. Be it from video conference fatigue, compounding grief, or widespread talent shortages that add more to their plates, the pressure is mounting.
According to Fast Company, workplace management researcher Ben Wigert points out, “We are [also] seeing extensive disruption in the workplaces, from the continually increasing speed of technology and globalization to organizations becoming more matrixed. Take concerns about management, add in that work demands are increasing and happening faster than ever, and top it off with mobile technology that connects employees to their work at home and on vacation. For us, these factors spelled out a recipe for workplace burnout.”
People simply can’t maintain the same scattered pandemic pace of the last two years. It’s just no longer sustainable.
So what can be done?
Leaders looking to help struggling employees get some relief can ask these questions of themselves:
Conducting regular check-ins with your staff can help you spot a potential problem or behavior change before it becomes a big burnout. Make sure you’re focused on establishing trust and using a mix of communication channels to dialog. For instance, some employees may be more comfortable sharing workplace concerns over the phone. Establish a safe space in which they can talk candidly about issues as they arise.
Workplace connections offer another buffer against burnout. Who better understands one’s day-to-day stressors than their peers? Finding ways to encourage collaboration and promote socializing among teams can strengthen their personal and professional bonds. Be it team-building exercises at a corporate retreat or a shared goal, get folks working together, even if they’re working remotely. Doing so helps fulfill an essential human desire to have a sense of belonging.
Identifying and utilizing an employee’s unique talents works twofold. First, it ensures their strengths are being recognized, helping them feel seen and appreciated. By contrast, more than half of employees who quit cite not feeling valued by one’s organization or manager based on one McKinsey study.
Additionally, having them do work that’s in line with their strengths keeps them more engaged and increases their self-worth, again insulating them from burnout.
Passionless work puts employees on a fast track to burnout. Getting employees reconnected with your organization’s mission helps them feel like they’re having a positive impact, not just collecting a paycheck. Help them reframe how they think about the work they’re doing and how it impacts the world. Who are they helping? How are they advancing change? Where can the difference they make be felt?
Indeed reports that more flexibility in scheduling and working remotely, or simply more PTO, could help to reduce burnout (36% each), according to employees. Encouraging your staff to take ample time off and trusting them to get their work done during the workday instead of at a specific workplace are two major components of satisfying evolved work-life balance demands.
The consequences of workplace burnout can be extreme. Think insomnia, substance abuse, and heart disease. Don’t wait until it’s too late to chart a more supportive course.