COVID-19: How to Avoid Burnout While Working from Home

Peninsula Team

August 31 2020

Chances are high that your employees working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic may experience a burnout. 

A burnout stems from the absence of a work-life balance. Not everyone is used to or cut out for remote work. It becomes harder to disconnect from work when your home is also your office. Add to it the stress of living through a pandemic, financial worries, childcare responsibilities, prolonged social isolation — and the risk of a breakdown increases. 

What exactly is a burnout?

In 2019, the World Health Organization termed burnout as an “occupational phenomenon”. It said burnout resulted from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.  The WHO identified three key signs to identify a burnout:

  • Feeling exhausted or depleted of energy
  • Feeling negative or cynical towards one's job, or mental distance from work
  • Reduced professional efficacy

How can I protect my staff from a burnout?

Here are some ways you can help your remote workers manage stress better while working from home:

Share advice on remote work best practices

Encourage your staff to maintain a work-life balance while working from home. Advise them to:

  • Take short breaks through the day. Sitting on a computer for long hours may cause musculoskeletal injuries and eye strain. Take mini breaks through the day, like stretching, preparing a snack, going for a walk, etc.
  • Avoid working overtime or on the weekends. Doing so regularly may cause employees to feel overworked and stressed.
  • Stay connected with their colleagues through virtual social events and activities
  • Invest in self-care. Stick to a routine. Take up an activity. Eat healthy and exercise regularly.  
  • Take time off if they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Spend that time to relax and reset.

Help employees manage workload

Set clear objectives and realistic deadlines for your staff. Regularly check in with your team via video conferencing so that they don’t feel isolated or neglected. Have an open-door policy and encourage employees to reach out to you if they experience any difficulties keeping up with the workload. Unless urgent, do not send emails or assignments to your employees after work hours. If an employee is regularly online after work hours or on the weekends, talk to them about it. It could be that they are having difficulty segmenting home and work. 

Train team leads to spot signs of stress

Ask your team leads/managers to regularly check in with their teams. Train them to spot signs of work-related stress, such as drop in productivity, changes in personality, visible fatigue, increased levels of sensitivity or deliberate isolation. If you notice a drop in a worker’s performance, talk to them and find out why. It could also be due to a mental health issue created by the current crisis. If that is the case, help them seek professional support.

Connect employees to mental health resources

Help your staff seek professional help if stress and anxiety due to the pandemic is affecting their wellbeing. If you offer an Employee Assistance Program, remind your workers about it and how to access it. The government has provided a wealth of resources for COVID-19 mental health care. Educate your remote workers about such services

Want to know your employer obligations surrounding COVID-19 health and safety?

For advice on health and safety policies during the pandemic, call an expert today: 1 (833) 247-3652

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