Handling burnout with covid at work

Covid 19 is effecting workers in many ways, leading to an epidemic of burnout and workplace frustration.  Burnout is a result of employees being unable to replenish their psychological resources
to handle stress.  The constant onslaught of worries during this difficult time is fraying our workforce.

The pandemic has brought a number of stresses to the workplace and home.  Higher unemployment and wage decline have put all current employees on edge about the security of their position and income level.  Volatility with shutdowns and consumers staying home out of caution has thrown sales figures askew Nationwide giving rise to real worries that employers may furlough employees again, or close their doors all together.  There is the balance of performing your job while keeping a safe distance from customers and coworkers to keep from getting sick.

This all gets combined with the worries and pressures at home.  Everyone at this point knows someone that has been infected.  You turn on the TV and their is a constant stream of dire news.  Employees do not get to release the pressure from work at home, the same pressures from work are there too.

The key to dealing with employee burnout is noticing the signs and identifying the people that are beginning to show difficulty coping with stress.  Here are some common indicators:

  • Increased levels of fatigue
  • Lethargy in completing tasks
  • Easily irritable or frustrated
  • Shying away from interpersonal contact
  • Uncharacteristic lateness or absence
  • Unusually confrontational, including arguing over small issues

know the signs

communicate and reassure

One of the largest causes of stress is fear of the unknown.  Many times what employees anticipate is much worse, and causes more anxiety than what actually eventually happens.  Worries about the future financial health of the company, perception of the employees by management, and even simple understanding of employee concerns can weigh heavily on a workers mind.  The best way to combat this is giving clear concise information.  Managers should communicate as regularly as possible to staff.

  • Tell them how the company has the resources and plan to be financially stable and successful throughout the pandemic
  • Let them know that managers are feeling and experiencing all the same things as the staff and understand how it can cause stress
  • Share specifics of upcoming advertising, promotions, or specials that demonstrate a commitment to keeping customers coming to the company
  • Let employees know you have an open door policy and want to be there to get through this together

One of the ways to stop the burnout mindset is interrupt the schedule.  Don't allow work days to turn into slogs, and if an employee starts to get into a funk in the morning find a way to stop it before it becomes an entire day.  If you do not act to break routines that cause burnout it will grow from being an employee having a bad day to a week and all of the sudden a month.  Here are a few ways to stop it from snowballing:

  • Introduce short breaks, even 15 minutes, into the work day
  • Ensure that a break is away from the work floor and uninterrupted
  • Let the employee turn off their phone, email, electronic communication
  • If your company works on shifts try to place the employee on the type of shift that mentally works best for them.  Some people are just morning or afternoon people
  • Let home really be separated from work.  If it can wait ask them the question when they get back to the office instead of emailing or texting because you feel like knowing something now

coordinate additional breaks

get help

Sometimes an employee can just be too far down the rabbit hole.  Stress at home and work are too large and no amount of positive speak, schedule adjustment, and caring can overcome it.  If you are doing everything you can as a manager and things just aren't turning around point the employee to people that can help.  There are many occupational therapists that can help employees get the right frame of mind again.

Thanks for taking the time to read our post.  We hope it helps at time that is bringing unprecedented challenges to most industries.  If you need help hiring, and managing an HR related process, we can definitely help you with that.