In May of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified employee burnout as a syndrome that affects the worker emotionally, physically, and financially. It includes effects such as health issues due to stress and high pressure, as well as a significant decrease in productivity leading to financial troubles in the workplace. The WHO predicts that with the economic impact from Covid-19, the high levels of stress due to the uncertainty of the pandemic will cause burnout to increase globally.
How can you identify whether your employees are burning out or not?How can you be of help to them?
Here are 8 practical tips you could implement with your team to avoid burnout while working from home:
1. Emphasize that health comes first
Let your employees know that their wellbeing is a top priority for them and for the company. Be accessible and trustworthy, so when your employees are experiencing a few burnout effects, they come to you, instead of continuing with the activities that are triggering their burnout. Encourage them to look after each other and to live a healthy and meaningful life. Make sure they are working a reasonable amount of hours, or that they take some vacation time during the year (even if they don’t travel because of Covid-19, they should take some time off to recharge and disconnect).
2. Implement flexible work schedules and methods
When your employees start to feel stuck or stressed out, it is time to adjust some things in the working method or schedules, so they can have a little refresh of the routine. Sometimes working a little earlier or adjusting the number of hours per day and complete them in another day can help them gain focus again and destress. If you are asking your team to work longer hours because there is a large demand, make sure they are on board and that you recognize these efforts later on.
3. Communicate job structures and expectations
Your employees should be aware at all times of what you are expecting from them, other than the final results. Let them know how you would like work to be done, what communication channels they can use and when is the right time to do so, who to reach out for specific situations or questions, and more. Since you are not in the office right now, the approachability and the accessibility from the managers must be improved, so your employees can feel not only a sense of trust but also of order and control.
4. Find ways to allow employees to disconnect from work
One of the most effective ways to allow your employees to truly log out from work after working hours is to ask them not to download their email app or messaging tool on their phone. As much as you would love to receive an immediate response from your team, there are specific times to communicate for work reasons, and there are times to give them the space to rest and enjoy their time off work. Especially now with the pandemic, schedules have become a bit blurry for many people, so you, as a team leader, should respect the time they are using for leisure. Your employees will greatly appreciate it.
5. Be transparent and provide constructive feedback
Be honest when you are presented with results or advancements in the project and let your employees know your thoughts, as long as you give constructive criticism. Make sure you are not just identifying what they could have done differently, but also let them know what they did correctly and how they can improve the parts where they missed something. Again, your employees will appreciate the transparency and your trust that they can take feedback and apply it.
6. Build your employee experience and encourage teamwork
Even though it is somewhat harder to promote teamwork right now with your team being in separate places, all in their homes, working together makes employees supportive of one another and they feel less workload. This way, the challenges seem smaller and easier to tackle than when working individually and will view the work as something interesting and exciting, rather than dreadful or fearful.
7. Recognize efforts and results
Making sure that your employees feel recognized for their work and effort is key to improve their whole experience and satisfaction. When an employee sees that their team manager, leader, and other members recognize their dedication to their tasks, they become more motivated and thus, increase their productivity, and prevent burnout. The important thing is to reward your employees for their effort and results, and not for the hours that they have worked at a specific job. The reward doesn’t necessarily have to be money-wise but a simple “great job nailing the client this week!” message is enough.
8. Avoid micromanagement and allow freedom
One of the main causes of burnout is feeling out of control of their job. In order to prevent this from happening, avoid micromanagement, set out expectations very early on, if the role is going to change in the future, make this clear at the beginning, and let them know how you will evaluate their performance. If the employee is not meeting objectives or feels extraordinarily pressured to finish, it could be a lack of resources and tools available. Make sure that they have what they need to succeed. This might lead you to reach out to hire new team members or freelancers who could ease the workload.
Constant communication between your employees and management is also crucial to prevent burnout. Ask for feedback, involve them in team decisions, and make them know that you care for their wellbeing and their work experience in the company. Burnout is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly, and if managed correctly, it could prevent major effects that it could bring to the individual and to the company.
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