Leadership support is central to preventing burnout. With employee burnout becoming more prevalent during the coronavirus pandemic, there is a dire need for clear and empathetic leadership to steer people out of this crisis mode and help them navigate the Covid-19 pandemic in healthy ways.
When an employee experiences burnout, it can heavily impact the productivity of the entire team, the customers and ultimately the business itself. This is why it is important to keep a check on any signs of employee dissatisfaction or burnout to prevent lack of motivation and any shortcomings in performance amongst employees.
Employee burnout can commonly result in physical and emotional exhaustion, stress and even stress-induced disorders. Burnout is described as a syndrome of exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or reduced motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration, which in turn may reduce a feeling of personal accomplishment. Employee burnout in the workplace occurs commonly and can be triggered by a combination of factors such as; social, individual and cultural issues.
Employee burnout can happen at any time; however, it has become more prevalent during the coronavirus pandemic. Some common causes of job burnout include – overwhelming job demands, an overload of work, conflicting job requirements, lack of proper resources or training, shortage of constructive feedback etc. These causes can result in an employee feeling as though they are overlooked, overworked, underpaid and unappreciated by their peers, seniors or clients within the workplace, consequently, this is when burnout is likely to occur.
When an employee experiences burnout, it can heavily impact the productivity of the entire team, the customers and ultimately the business itself. This is why it is important to keep a check on any signs of employee dissatisfaction or burnout to prevent lack of motivation and any shortcomings in performance amongst employees. Moreover, employee burnout is also instrumental in causing a number of health problems in burnout victims.
Emotional balance gets depleted and the individual can suffer from chronic tension or stress which may counteract with adequate physical activity, appetite and sleep which can reduce the normal functioning of the immune system. Job burnout victims can also demonstrate emotional withdrawal, whereupon sufferers withdraw themselves from social interactions and often results in the sufferer becoming inaccessible to people they are expected to help in both their personal and professional life.
Therefore, it is crucial for employers to identify potential risks to employees’ health as a result of burnout and current setbacks already occurring due to the coronavirus crisis. Increased risk of fatigue may arise due to energy levels being depleted and becoming very low in burnout.
There are a number of factors that reduce energy levels during the already challenging coronavirus pandemic which include working additional shifts, working longer shifts, dealing with more intense workloads, not getting adequate breaks, managing family members along with work duties due to work from home obligations, Covid curfews and lockdowns.
Employers should recognize the higher stress time employees’ are having to face with little to no time for workers to recover, which after a while starts to create frustration which remains continuous during burnout.
Frustration and anxiety caused by such work environments and added pressures due to the pandemic can lead to impaired work performance and dissatisfaction progressing in eventual resignation. The burnout victim may once again seek another job only to find a repeat performance and eventually become unable to work at all.
Shifting to a new job without recognizing and understanding the actual problem will only increase the likelihood of burnout happening again at the new job. This can cause a case of even worse mental fatigue from losing hope and confidence in one’s self and further periods of intensive concentration due to sheer determination to perform a second or third time around at a new job, the same increased workload, learning a new area of work, emotional fatigue from working long hours, anxiety (including anticipation), fear and worrying about what could happen and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders.
It is not only Employers’ responsibilities to keep employees safe in the workplace during the COVID-19 outbreak, it is necessary for employers to ensure organizational change for fighting burnout. We are not living in a straightforward pre- and post-pandemic world, but a pre-and post-vaccine one. We are already coming to terms with the ‘new normal’ and fear is guaranteed to rise on a par with the levels of uncertainty.
So it becomes more imperative for employers to take care of the well-being of their employees and keep them motivated and engaged. Every now and then, the workload can be expected to increase during the pandemic due to the shortness of staff. Employee rewards can be regarded by employers especially during these trying times. This can mean adequate financial compensation or rewards that come in other forms too, like recognition from supervisors and coworkers. This can impact pride in work and job satisfaction.
At this hour, there is a need for a clear and empathetic leadership approach to overcome and adapt to the challenges faced with the COVID-19 crisis and steer the ship to safety. There will be no returning to the ‘old normal’ anytime soon and leaders themselves do not have the answers to this long-term uncertainty, but in order to maintain the initial levels of positivity from employees, business leaders must continue to engage and communicate with empathy.
Engaged employees may still face excessive workloads, but they tend to have more say in how they do their work, they’re more energetic, more involved thus more effective. Leadership development models must focus on care, human connection and resilience. Without these notions, the breakdown of a stressed workforce is bound to take place. Working under uncertain conditions with no end in sight means burnout could become another epidemic of sorts, affecting both professionals and society at large.
Leadership development models must focus on care, human connection and resilience. Without these notions, the breakdown of a stressed workforce is bound to take place. Working under uncertain conditions with no end in sight means burnout could become another epidemic of sorts, affecting both professionals and society at large.
As much as an accelerated, proactive listening strategy to understand and proactively manage stress in this fluid situation, a productive digital experience will also help the workforce cope with prolonged remote working, with provisions to ensure workforce interaction and ward off isolation. HR functions must also look to evolve by adopting a radical employee-focused approach to facilitate improved employee experience.
Companies are coming out with new and innovative ways to help employees manage their stress. These include:
- Well-designed and transparent communications plan for critical messaging and sharing of accurate information
- New leave policies
- Emotional and professional coaching via industry leaders and life coaches
- Mental health support with the help of counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists via dedicated helplines
- Engaging, empowering and energizing the workforce via motivational speakers, experts from various walks of life through webinars, and dedicated organizational communications channels
- Online learning to help employees stay updated and acquire new skills using various online teaching applications and platforms
- A continuous employee awareness campaign to promote hygiene across multiple organization communication channels
This crisis has presented employers and human resource executives with an opportunity to reassess their priorities, which includes building a culture that encourages physical exercise, nutrition, hygiene and mindfulness, along with updated definitions of work-life balance.
There are a number of ways to prevent burnout on each level.
Organizational methods are reducing workload, boost employee morale by incorporating programs that will increase team participation and motivation. Every problem is an opportunity in disguise and organizations will only emerge stronger post this crisis if they take the right steps today and focus on building an organization for the future.