Employee burnout has always been a concern for employers but it has reached new heights during COVID-19.

A survey conducted by Blind, which polled 6,789 professionals nationwide, revealed that 73% of working Americans were burned out as of May 2020. Since the lines between non-work and work are or were getting blurred in many unusual ways, many employees are struggling to maintain healthy boundaries between their personal and professional lives.
Add to this the worries over job security, concerns over getting sick, and suffering from loneliness and isolation. All of these have become a massive burden on people, resulting in skyrocketing employee burnout.

So, the key question is how can organizations help employees avoid burnout and stay motivated? We’ve rounded up five proven strategies that you can use to boost employee engagement.

1. Encourage employees to have a water cooler chat

Many employers may think of spending a few minutes to talk about dinner recipes or Netflix series as a complete waste of time but in reality, these conversations can do wonders in avoiding burnout.
Moreover, these water cooler chats bring a multitude of additional benefits –from building a strong company culture and improving employee collaboration to boosting productivity and letting employees come up with effective ideas and solutions.
For instance, you can consider organizing regular stand-ups with the team, where the members can discuss concerns and questions. You may also encourage employees to use a team chat app to facilitate instantaneous conversations in a synchronized manner without having to rely on video calls or emails.

2. Help employees create temporal boundaries

Temporal boundaries refer to the workday differences between different team members. During the pandemic, maintaining it has become even more important because lots of employees are now integrating senior care or childcare responsibilities into their daily routines. Therefore, employees need to be aware and respectful that some of their coworkers may have different working times than theirs.

The addition of an “out of office” reply would be a useful strategy for employees who want to take care of other responsibilities during specific hours. However, it’s important to understand that creating temporal boundaries usually depends on one’s ability to coordinate his/her time with that of others. Therefore, leaders need to help employees properly structure, coordinate and manage the pace of work. This may mean you’d need to hold virtual check-in meetings with employees regularly or encourage them to use virtual workspace software so that all of you can stay on the same page.

3. Ask employees to take regular breaks

Healthy, frequent breaks throughout the working hours greatly help to stave off the impacts of burnout and to maintain productivity. It might have become normal for your employees to have the lines between personal life and work-life blurred while they’re working from home. However, this usually leads to people working too much without taking regular breaks, which eventually makes them highly stressed.

Therefore, encourage them to take regular breaks just like they would when they were coming to the office. These may include taking a short stroll, a few minutes break to get a cup of coffee, among others. When working from home, it might not be uncommon for employees to have back-to-back meetings.
Even in that case, there are ways to provide them with room to breathe. For example, you can ask them to use the “Speedy meetings” calendar function of Google that automatically shortens meetings’ default length by five or ten minutes depending on their actual duration. Or simply add a 10-15 minute buffer in between. Drink that extra cup of water!

Too much work, in too little time? If it’s a constant, it might burn you out.

4. Advise them to take time off

In the world before COVID-19, for the majority of people, vacation days used to mean travel. However, the pandemic has forced us to put off the vacation days for the time in which each country allows more flexible travels, generally spring and summer.

But the thing is that vacation doesn’t essentially mean doing something awesome or clicking some fabulous pictures in a tourist destination. Instead, it means taking a complete break to rejuvenate yourself. In short, working from home doesn’t mean that someone can work round the clock.
So, encourage your employees to take an entire week off, get disconnected from work completely, and pursue their hobbies and other interests. And when talking about taking time off, it should mean no last-minute projects, no answering email, and no meetings –these will help build better boundaries that are usually absent in the virtual world.

5. Implement effective management strategies and techniques

The lack of respect, empathy, or professionalism has always been a major reason for employee burnout and the present-day situation is no different. Improved effectiveness of leadership is the key to improve employee satisfaction while preventing burnout. There’re some effective techniques that can be used to accomplish this.

First of all, a robust leadership foundation is essential to motivate the entire team. Provide employees with the tools required to build a team-wide communication that facilitates positive change.

Second, focus on implementing effective active listening strategies that include refraining from making immediate judgment and getting back to the employees only after reflecting back on what they’ve expressed.

Third, it may not be always possible to know what’s going in your employees’ personal lives but effective communication can help them stay motivated. For instance, an informal “how’s it going?” or something like “do you need any additional support from me to help you work better remotely?” goes a long way, really. Here, the point is that one-on-one meetings don’t necessarily have to be all about work.

Lastly, you should be approachable so that employees can freely discuss their difficulties with you, which will greatly help them to avoid burnout.

Wrapping up

Employees often work extra hours or volunteer for additional work to impress supervisors or managers, which eventually leads to burnout. Therefore, it’s a must to state your expectations clearly so that they don’t feel like failing you by turning down a task.
Teach your employees that it’s absolutely fine to say “no” because sometimes, that’s the best method to ensure productivity and efficiency. Finally, ensure that you acknowledge their hard work and take some time to show your appreciation for them, which will essentially boost their morale.

At InHunt World we offer a variety of Human Resources Consulting Services, if you are currently struggling with similar challenges with your team, feel free to contact us with the form below or via info@inhuntworld.com, and we will be glad to help you.

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