For all of its advantages, working from home sucks. The lack of delineation in a workday – feeling as though one is always on call. Isolation. Constant virtual communication is our new normal – except it’s not. As human beings, we are cut out to be in community with one another. To be in real life – together – not a simulated version of it.
When one in four employees across the globe currently reports suffering from burnout symptoms* – it’s a huge problem that won’t be going away anytime soon. Increased stress, anxiety, and depression have destructive repercussions on our personal and professional lives.
*Source: McKinsey Health Institute Global Employee Mental Health and Well Being Survey 2022
It’s easy to see the culprits for this rapidly rising mass burnout:
- The global pandemic.
- Extended lockdowns.
- There is no more week-end.
- Not being able to team up with co-workers.
- The massive shift to working from home: increased political tensions, tumult, and general worldwide chaos.
- Collectively, we’ve spent the last three years lurching from crisis to crisis, seemingly with no end in sight.
Most of us used to leave our homes to go to work and return at the end of the day. Weekends – were just that; the working week had ended. Life was more compartmentalized. Family and friends were separate from our jobs and our co-workers. With our homes doubling up as our workplaces, the lack of separation makes it difficult. People and situations seep into and across one another.
The workplace wasn’t designed for our spouses, housemates, children, or pets. And yet here we all are!
We’ve gone from Bring Your Dog to Work Day to Bring Your Work to Your Dog.
Conversely, the work/home life lack of separation is now the exact opposite of our old work life. Who knew how much we’d miss the weekday water cooler conversations, Donut Wednesdays, Plaid-ur-Day, and office get-togethers?
We no longer get to stay in our lanes.
It’s tough maintaining relationships with colleagues. Getting to know new co-workers in any meaningful way is challenging when video conferencing, Google meets, Slack, and email are the only ways to do it. Technology doesn’t encourage authentic relationships. When we do achieve them, it’s often despite that technology. We all know it’s great being able to Facetime someone, but it’s nothing like being in the same room.
The ongoing dilemma of being separated in real life can feed anxiety, negativity, and resentment. Those feelings are often contagious. A culture of complaint is a few clicks on a keyboard away.
According to the McKinsey Health Institute, toxic workplace behavior is the biggest driver of negative workplace outcomes, such as burnout and intent to leave (and employees are leaving in unprecedented numbers).
How can this burnout epidemic be arrested? Can it be turned around?
Most companies offer health and wellness programs, but with so many employees complaining of burnout, joining a Tai-chi class, meditation, or online group motivational session simply isn’t going to cut it. When surgery is required, a band-aid won’t do.
Kind, empathetic gestures go a long way. Employers willing to make themselves available to their employees and help them feel valued and cared about will have much happier employees. Showing an interest in whom your employees are—discovering their likes and preferences- will encourage loyalty and productivity.
Get deeply personal. Get one-on-one. Make an act of sincere thoughtfulness and generosity. The adage, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, rings true. People need to be listened to and validated, particularly if they are sad, anxious, angry or stressed. Cutting through the buzzsaw of negativity becomes possible when expectations are reset by kindness and lending an ear. Checking in on people, hearing their concerns and frustrations. Learning who they are and nurturing positive relationships are all critical to stemming the burnout flow.
Three Simple Ways to Help Prevent Employee Burnout:
- Recognize them during onboarding by sending a personalized gift.
- Make Anniversaries special by sending them a unique reward.
- Life events happen once in a lifetime. Celebrate with them by sending something special.
Learn how to build stronger relationships with your customers and employees: