How to Manage Pandemic Fatigue in the Workplace

Peninsula Team

November 11 2020

We’re all tired of this pandemic. Tired of washing our hands, of being cooped indoors, remembering to mask up when we go outside, sanitizing groceries and socially distancing all the time. But these measures, inconvenient as they may be, are critical to surviving this crisis. And given the surge in COVID-19 cases the world over, this pandemic is far from over.  

According to a recent survey, 48% Canadians said they were tired of following COVID-19 public health measures. Though 93% of those surveyed did say they were “doing their best” to stay compliant.  

What is pandemic fatigue?

The World Health Organization defines pandemic fatigue as “emerging demotivation to engage in protection behaviours and seek COVID-19-related information and as complacency, alienation and hopelessness.”

Pandemic fatigue is a natural response to this long-drawn-out crisis. Our brains are wired for a short-term fight or flight response to immediate danger. Dealing with stressful circumstances over a long period of time requires different coping strategies.   

What are the signs of pandemic fatigue?    

Those experiencing pandemic fatigue may:

  • Be lax in observing public health measures (wearing masks, handwashing, social distancing, etc.)
  • Experience low productivity, restlessness, anxiety and have trouble concentrating
  • Suffer loss of appetite or stress eat, and have difficulty sleeping

For employees working from home, prolonged social isolation and keeping a work-life balance may be a struggle. For parents who have been working from home, job duties coupled with keeping children engaged through the day may have doubled their stress.

Workers going into the office may be concerned about exposure to COVID-19. The stress caused by the pandemic may be further compounded by personal issues.   

How do I check pandemic fatigue in the workplace?

It is essential to address pandemic fatigue to keep your workplace COVID-secure and safe. Lack of diligence in observing health and safety measures by employees may lead to a COVID-19 outbreak in your workplace. This could lead to business closure and/or stiff penalties if your health and safety measures are found inadequate during safety inspections.

We suggest that you have a private conversation with employees struggling with pandemic fatigue. If they are feeling overwhelmed, connect them to available COVID-19 mental health resources/counselling through your company’s Employee Assistance Program.  

Check in on a regular basis with your remote staff. Make sure they have the tools and equipment they need to work efficiently and safely from home.

Irrespective of whether your staff are back in the office or working from home, advise them to:

  • Stick to a routine (especially remote workers). Eat a nutritious diet, get enough rest and exercise.
  • Limit news intake. Instead make time for relaxing activities, such as playing with a pet, baking, listening to music, going for a walk, gardening, reading, and so on.
  • Stay connected to friends and family virtually
  • Learn relaxation strategies (e.g. meditation, deep breathing) to manage stress better.
  • Be aware of the signs of chronic stress and burnout. Seek professional help if needed.  

Do you need help managing your business during the COVID-19 pandemic?

For advice on HR and health and safety during the pandemic, call an expert today: 1 (888) 247-3652.

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