The global pandemic added a new and challenging perspective to our lives over the past year and a half— stress and worry. It’s been a heavy load, and it’s wearing us out.
Business owners and leaders have faced many unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, including how best to keep their employees safe and how to help their organizations adapt to changing conditions. It’s been, of course, no easy task. Employees have been dealing with uncertainty over what the pandemic could mean for their families, loved ones, jobs, and careers. Continually dealing with uncertainty — and creatively coming up with solutions to address it — has made us weary. And the good news-bad news cycle has been draining. While it seemed, for example, that pandemic was winding down, the Delta variant has caused another wave of infections and deaths. And once again, we’re wondering what is going to happen next.
According to a new report by Gallup, leaders who haven’t done so already must take steps to address burnout — both their own and their employees — or risk having it impact their organizations and workforces to an even greater degree. The global analytics and advice company has these suggestions:
1. Measure employee well-being. How well are you monitoring employee engagement and morale? Surveys can help pinpoint issues like burnout, stress and fear, and help leaders know which issues are the most important to tackle and how.
2. Address work-life balance. Managers should be trained to have conversations about this critical issue with their employees. If your organization wants to be able to recruit and retain quality employees effectively, you’ll need to find a way to address this top concern among American workers today. It’s no longer enough to offer a good working environment from 9 to 5; employees want an employer to help them balance the demands of work and family and live their best life.
3. Acknowledge the desire for remote work. Employees want flexibility in where and how they work long after the pandemic is over. Those who never worked at home pre-pandemic realized during the outbreak that they liked it and could do their jobs as well as or even better than in the office setting. A number of people don’t want to go back to the office environment. The most effective leaders will offer employees flexibility that support productivity and work-life integration.
4. Understand that everyone’s struggle is different. The COVID-19 outbreak has made it clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to managing people simply doesn’t work. The pandemic, for example, has caused severe financial and personal distress for some households. Working mothers and single parents have often struggled to address tough child-care issues. Some families may have faced severe financial setbacks or grappled with the death of loved ones. Others may have become more concerned with serious diversity, equity and inclusion issues. Is your workplace accepting and supportive of all employees?
5. Be on the lookout for signs of burnout. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that leaders make sure their management team has realistic expectations for employees, that individualized support is available to workers and that each one has a manageable workload and time off to rest and recharge. Being on the lookout for burnout in yourself and those around you. This will be a critical task now and in the years to come.