Monitor & Prevent Your Team’s COVID Burnout
How are you feeling? I really mean it, how are you doing? Do you know how your team feels? This has been a LONG 12+ months, especially for the Business Continuity/ Crisis Management profession. In the beginning everyone was working around the clock – literally around the clock – late into the evenings and over the weekends. There was way too much to do. The problem is we are now well into 2021 and many of the professionals I’m speaking to are still working 12+ hours a day – some even 15+ in addition to logging hours over the weekend. And it’s not just for 1 night here and there, it’s consistent for weeks/ months at a time. Employee burnout from COVID-19 is very real.
Here are some stats on employee burnout: - Average employee is working 9+ hours of overtime on a weekly basis (compared to 3+ hours before the COVID-19 pandemic). - Remote working has had a significant impact with 34% struggling to log off on time. - 34% of employees feel more anxious, 31% feel more stressed and 25% struggle to switch off. Stats above were highlighted in “Staff feeling overworked during Covid” from freshbusinessthinking.com).
If you’re already feeling the anxiety among your team, comments on long hours or revealing statements such as “I live in my house in front of the computer,” or “I wish I could take a vacation, but I would have to put in crazy hours to get things done before leaving,” or “I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed (activity).” It’s time to act and act swiftly! Employee burnout is a mental concern that’s on the rise from COVID-19 and employees who experience it are 2.6 times likely to seek a new career opportunity. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to monitor and manage your team’s health. Here are some tips to help.
Stop the Fire Hose: Review your team’s workload in a scheduled 1-1 to assess the tasks they should be completing and help them prioritize and set boundaries/ a reasonable time for each task. Encourage openness on expectations and scheduled timelines and be sure your team has the necessary tools. Also monitor who else might be giving your team extra work that might be leading to added stress. Encourage your team in framing small daily and weekly wins so they feel more accomplished, especially for those arduous projects that never seem to have an end date. Breaking things down into smaller pieces will not only break up the day/ week; but will make the goals seem more achievable.
Don’t Just Encourage Breaks – Make them Mandatory: The home used to be a calming place away from work, but now it’s their office, school, and much more. With all that is happening it is easy to feel the need to always being on, but that isn’t reasonable, nor is it healthy. Your employees are desperate to get away for a quick break, but there might be a fear of what others will think if they don’t immediately answer that Teams call or email. Some organizations are now requiring scheduled technology breaks during the day in addition to ending Zoom calls 5 minutes before the allotted time so there is some downtime before the next Zoom meeting. As a manager, you may want to consider flexible hours too to accommodate family needs that may come up during the day. These small little things can mean the world of difference to someone who is burning both sides of the candle too often.
The Video Doesn’t Always Need to be On: I’m hearing from so many individuals that having the video constantly on causes more anxiety and stress. Just last week I had to help my daughter record a science experiment. She would have typically performed the experiment in class, but due to COVID we had to scramble to record everything. After she played it back, she commented on the fact that she didn’t like her voice. Duh… don’t we all feel the same way? Looking at yourself while you’re trying to speak with a co-worker, customer, client or manager can be stressful, not to mention needing to get ready before the call and sending out an alarm to everyone in your home that your office is off limits. Yes, it is nice to have the video on to increase engagement or to read body language, but is it truly necessary 100% of the time?
Ensure that the Time Away from the Office is Less Stressful: Time away from the office is essential to recharge. And sadly, many of us missed our scheduled vacation over the last year. Now professionals feel guilty about leaving and/or have anxiety about the workload they’ll need to complete before and after their vacation. As a manager you can take steps to help your team better plan for vacation time. As an example, work with your team in advance and decide what tasks can be deferred, which tasks can someone else handle and be sure to communicate vacation dates and backup contacts. Also, building in a buffer day upon return to the office to read through emails and catching up with their team on what happened while they were away can be a life safer to help address the return to office dread. Allow your team to disconnect while on vacation too. Of course, you’ll have a few who will get overwhelmed at just the thought of hundreds of emails upon their return. If needed allow them the opportunity to only sweep through to clean out unnecessary items but discourage them from issuing any responses.
Just because You’re Okay Doesn’t Mean They Are: Being a leader – a champion for your team means that you need to set aside time to listen and be understanding. Be proactive and approachable. Make it a team effort and enable open communication. If you’re not engaging your team you could be missing out on the signs. Taking the time to talk about employee burnout and helping them navigate their unique challenges can help you in preventing and reversing burnout. Be sure to celebrate and recognize achievements too. Customizing the reward makes it more special to the individual – not just celebrating the employee’s success but the employee themselves. Under this unique climate of COVID it can even be a nice, thoughtful, recognition email.
Your team is your greatest asset, and you’d hate to lose them to a better opportunity. Engagement and taking the time to listen can go a long way. Please feel free to reach out to us with any staffing questions. We are here to help you assess the appropriate personnel need, be it managed services, consulting, temporary or a permanent hire. Additionally, we have sample job descriptions and several BCM Research Reports available for review. You can also find great hiring manager video content posted on the BC Management You Tube channel. Arrange a complimentary discussion today at firstname.lastname@example.org.