For those of us who have taken to working from home since mid-March, it can start getting a bit tedious. Your team may have started out following a strong daily routine and dressing up for every Zoom meeting, but now it’s becoming difficult for them to even turn their video camera on during meetings. Your leadership team may be starting to get frustrated with employee performance, but let’s take a minute to sit back and actually look at what’s causing these impactful changes within your employees and their daily productivity.
According to a survey conducted by MarketWatch, 70% of workers are claiming that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing this time to be the most stressful of their entire careers. Furthermore, 62% of workers are noting losing an hour of productivity per day due to pandemic-related stressors while 32% of workers are saying they’re losing two hours of productivity. Employees aren’t becoming less productive because they’re working from home, their productivity levels are decreasing because they’re burnt out.
What is employee burnout?
Burnout can be caused by a multitude of reasons, both within an employee’s personal and professional life. HelpGuide defines burnout as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” In the workplace, burnout is often brought on by constantly being in a high-demand environment with an overwhelming workload.
If you’re concerned about your employees feeling burnt out, keep an eye out for the following:
- A lack of enthusiasm
- A decrease in productivity
- Loss of motivation
- Skipping work or repeatedly arriving late
How you can help your employees
If you’re noticing the above-mentioned symptoms in your employees who were previously performing at a high level, it may be time to take some action. As a human resources professional, it is your job to ensure your team is both productive and satisfied.
Take the time to check in on how they’re doing as people, not as professionals
If there’s one thing that should be taken from the events of this past year, it is that we need to all be cognizant of each other as individual people as well as professionals. When the pandemic began, people had to adjust their lives entirely. Some may have had to become caretakers for their children or family members. 2020 has truly been a trying time.
When checking in on your employees, be sure to do so from a place of sincerity and caring. It is often very apparent when someone’s actions are insincere. This can be made even more difficult when operating remotely. Below are some methods you can try:
- When speaking with your employees, listen attentively. If they mention certain details about their personal life, be sure to take note of it and bring it back up to them later. It will show your team that you care about their lives and you are listening to them.
- It is also imperative that you allow your employees the space to speak their minds freely in a “face-to-face” interaction. If in-office interactions are not possible, try to schedule all meetings via a video conferencing platform such as Zoom rather than a phone call. Being able to see someone offers the chance for positive social interaction and can help both participants be more attentive.
- When conducting any individual or small group meetings, be sure to take a moment to ask your employees how they are doing. In providing an outlet to speak, they may be more inclined to open up about how they are actually doing. If you’re having trouble getting your employees to open up, try to take that first initiative yourself. Oftentimes, vulnerability from ourselves can encourage vulnerability in others.
Have solutions readily available for your employees
If your employees are, in fact, experiencing burnout, be prepared and have potential solutions ready to offer them. To know the best solution for your employee, you first need to understand what is causing them to experience burnout on the professional side. Being both understanding and accommodating is crucial when it comes to approaching employee burnout as a human resources professional.
For instance, one cause of employee burnout can come from an overwhelming workload with little help from other team members. If that is the case with one of your employees, the best way to address this issue is by working with your employee to evaluate what a reasonable workload looks like for them at this time and connect them with those on the team that can best support them. You need to take the initiative and offer your help in providing the solution rather than simply giving them the option and hoping they take it on themselves to do so.
You may also need to be knowledgeable about outside resources that provide personal solutions as well. These conversations are where it can become difficult. Stress is a major factor in causing burnout, and some employees may need more long-term solutions to managing this stress that you are not equipped to handle. When these conversations happen, you’ll need to be prepared, but you also should keep these resources in mind for yourself as well.
The future of work will be difficult and eye-opening. As a human resources professional, part of your job is to bring a humanistic approach to how your company and its employees operate. That involves being aware of what issues can occur and how to effectively handle them in a way that benefits both you and your employees. Burnout can affect anyone within your organization, and it’s especially prone when working in primarily remote situations. If you want your organization to be truly productive, you need to understand what challenges may be getting in the way. Once you understand what obstacles are in the way of you and your employees’ productivity and happiness, you’ll understand how to overcome them.