The domino effect of burnout is real, and it’s not a game
Everyone felt burnt out in 2020 — scratch that, we still feel that way. January 1, 2021 didn’t magically take away the problems and challenges of the 365 days before it. Inauguration didn’t settle the unrest felt on both sides in the country. The vaccine didn’t stop the pandemic. We still have a ways to go on all fronts … and we still need to show up for work.
However, current events have blurred the lines between work and life for many of us. People are working from home more than ever, while others are still living off of unemployment checks and other aids. Maybe you got furloughed at some point, or maybe your position got eliminated altogether. Regardless of the situation, the burnout surrounding our professional lives is very real — perhaps more real than it’s ever been.
This article from Forbes explains it perfectly: The phenomenon of burnouts is not new, but the COVID context created new conditions for burnouts to become contagious. And they’re right; burnout isn’t new, but it’s still new as a recognized medical issue.
The World Health Organization only addressed burnout as such in the last year. And while the emotional component of burnout was always contagious (shout-out to all you empaths!), added pressures of less manpower, more demand, and never-ending personal stress have increased the feelings of burnout among hard-working employees.
So what can you do to help reduce the flame on your team? Here are some ideas:
- Recognize the blurred lines. If your people are working at home, that means they are, quite literally, living at work. If your operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, encourage communications to not extend before or after those hours.
- Offer four-day work weeks. This might not be feasible for everyone (especially on a regular basis), but aim to incorporate them at least once per month. That extra day can go far in boosting productivity and recharging your team.
- Create mandatory break times. In today’s remote world, it’s left up to the employees themselves to take breaks when they need to. However, imagine what would happen if supervisors added “break time” to everyone’s calendar!
- Check in often. Don’t leave it up to your team to come to you. Check in with them. Your employees might feel hesitant to approach upper management about their struggles, especially when lay-offs and money struggles are still rampant. They want to appear valuable, so show them you value their mental health, too.
- Practice what you preach. Attend your own “break times,” clock out at 5 p.m., take an extra day off — whatever it is, practice it during your own work week. It shouldn’t just be a suggestion, it should be a cultural shift within the company.
- Be realistic. Outside stressors can often cloud our judgment and focus at work. If there’s a looming project on the horizon (as well as day-to-day tasks that need to be delegated), take a hard look at what is truly urgent and what can wait.
- Don’t micromanage. Micromanagement can make employees feel inadequate and more stressed. If feedback needs to be given, offer it in a constructive way that creates a learning opportunity, rather than criticism.
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