After a year of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not uncommon for employees to face stress and a feeling of hitting the wall –– or multiple walls along the way. The current stage may prove extra difficult as teams feel both close to the end but with a long road still ahead before a sense of normalcy returns.
At this stage in the pandemic, employers need to have a comprehensive strategy for identifying signs of burnout and supporting employees that may be facing difficulties. Here are ways that organizations can mitigate employee burnout and foster resiliency in the workplace.
Plan ahead for flexible arrangements
One source of stress for employees may be how their work arrangements change –– or don’t change –– as a result of vaccinations and returning to work. Communicate now with teams about their preferences and how you may be able to accommodate their needs in the future, whether that’s working from home, hybrid or a return to a physical location to reduce isolation and increase collaboration. Don’t assume all employees have the same preference, but listen and talk through solutions.
Discuss training and education
Anyone can feel stuck in a rut when they’ve been in their home for a year, and that can extend to a sense of sameness in a work routine. Even if promotions aren’t available right now, it’s still helpful to initiate career conversations, discuss training and upskilling, and look to future opportunities. Knowing that growth can come through on the other side of the crisis can help build motivation and resiliency.
Provide self-care and health options
Knowing this can be an isolating time, many organizations are offering support through HR and partnerships with outside services, including online mental health counseling. Managers should make sure they are well versed in these offerings and provide them proactively and regularly to employees, especially before employee wellbeing declines.
Remind employees to take breaks
One of the simplest interventions can also be one of the most effective –– regularly reminding and encouraging employees to take breaks, disconnect and take their vacation time. The digital always-on culture of working where you live can easily lead to burnout if there aren’t boundaries put in place -- and a supportive management system to encourage them.
Finally, know that working toward combating burnout is going to take regular practice over the coming months, as the world economy isn’t out of the woods in COVID-19. Organizations should stay vigilant in protecting not just their employee physical health, but also their mental and emotional health as well.