Imagine this as your pre-pandemic life: You get up, go to work, and set aside all your troubles—family issues and personal problems—to do your job as effectively as possible. When you’re having a rough day, you call a couple of friends and meet up with them at your favorite restaurant so you can tell them all about it. When you’re having a rough week, you leave work early on Friday, catch a movie on Saturday, and enjoy an early brunch on Sunday. Then you kick back and relax that evening as you prepare for Monday morning.
But what if the life you once had ceased to exist? That’s been the reality for so many people. Life made sense—until suddenly, one day, it didn’t.
The pandemic brought about a change for all, forcing millions into isolation. It cut off people from family and friends—making them feel anxious, lonely, and full of despair.
Now that workplaces are reopening, employees are coming back—after enduring more burnout than ever before because of COVID-19. In this article, we’ll talk about what you can do, as a business owner, to help your employees bounce back from burnout and how you can continue to support your workers.
The pandemic gave people a taste of what it’s like to work from home. Some were new to telecommuting but immediately fell in love with the convenience it offered. And now that so many have seen what it’s like, they don’t want to go back to business-as-usual.
Many employees covet flexible schedules along with the ability to work from home. They enjoy being able to fit work around their hectic, busy lives. They no longer want to sit in traffic and commute to and from work. They like being able to work from home in their pajamas and complete their daily tasks.
Think about the schedule you impose and consider if there’s a way to make it more flexible. Maybe you can’t offer a fully remote schedule, but could you propose a partial one—where employees work from home a few days a week and come in to work the others?
And if telecommuting is completely off the table for your business—like it is for many service-based fields—can you introduce flexible schedules that better suit the needs of your employees?
Try to imagine how your employees feel. Think about everything they’ve gone through. The past year required so much of them, asking them to fill every role from full-time nanny to part-time chef. And even though their worlds were turned upside down, they still had to make a living and provide for their families.
As you bring them back to work, realize that the pandemic has pushed many of them to their breaking points. They’ve lost their support systems and have had no one to turn to. So make sure you check on them throughout the day. Ask them how they’re doing, and listen to what they have to say.
Allow them the freedom to go to managers and other leaders of the company to discuss any issues they have. This will show you care about them—beyond the value they bring to your company.
Do you have 1 employee doing the jobs of 3 or 4 team members? Increasing the workload to this magnitude can cause additional burnout and stress.
We know the pandemic has dealt an unfair blow to all—businesses included. Your employees aren’t the only ones who have been affected. You may even be short-staffed, so you need your workers to pick up the extra slack. But if you constantly pile too much on them, it could deplete their energy.
Most employees already understand what you’re going through. They know you’ve struggled to survive and that you’re doing the best you can with what you have. As members of your team, they don’t mind pitching in and helping out. But offer assistance whenever and however you can.
Start by making sure workers have everything they need to complete their jobs—and that materials are readily available. Then give employees more time to complete tasks whenever you add to their workloads or require them to do more.
We all love incentives. Think back to your early elementary school days. Whenever you completed your homework assignments on time, the teacher would put a gold star next to your name. And if you continued to turn in your work, she would write your name on the board for all to see—with a flood of gold stars next to it.
The gold star your teacher used was an incentive. It was small but effective. She used it to encourage you to keep up the good work. And the more of them you got, the more of them you wanted.
If you’re looking for an easy way to retain your employees, offer them incentives. It will prove to them that their efforts and hard work aren’t going unnoticed. They will feel appreciated, like beloved members of your organization.
Your incentives don’t have to take the form of monetary rewards. They can be anything from buying your employees lunch to offering them paid time off. Be creative and think of different ways you can do to show your appreciation.
For many people, the workplace is like their home away from home. They spend more time during the day at work than they spend in their actual homes with their families.
Focus on team-building activities to help employees form relationships with each other. If social distancing guidelines are still in effect, there are still methods of interacting with coworkers that exist.
Try doing something simple, like holding a brief 10-minute virtual meeting where workers can discuss anything from their favorite TV shows to their plans for the weekend. These small, casual conversations can go a long way toward improving workplace dynamics and offering social support to your employees.
Burnout is a real problem. That’s why preventing it is of the utmost importance.
And prevention starts with understanding the source of burnout. From there, you can recognize how to spot it and tailor custom solutions for your workers—to ensure they never experience it firsthand.