How to avoid work from home burnout

David Price – CEO of Health Assured

June 23 2020

You’ll have heard of employee burnout. It’s a condition caused by chronic workplace stress, and if not carefully managed, can derail careers, businesses, and lives.

Often, we associate burnout with long hours in the office, difficult commutes, or stressful work environments. Which is why you might find it surprising that home workers suffer burnout, too.

And when combined with the stress caused by the COVID-19 crisis on family and social lives, burnout poses a big risk to your employees’ wellbeing.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to reduce the impact of workplace stress on your homeworkers. Read on to find out more…

Make sure staff take their breaks

Many studies suggest that prolonged mental exertion decreases performance. In other words, the longer your work, the harder your work becomes.

Adult workers should take at least a 20-minute break if they work for more than six hours. Young workers should take at least a 30-minute break if they work for more than 4.5 hours. Encourage your employees to spend this time away from their workstations.

Employees who spend their breaks sat at their desk or scrolling through emails don’t give themselves time to refresh. That can lead to fatigue, a drop in productivity and an increase in stress levels.

Do not permit excessive overtime

One of the most important ways to avoid burnout is to create a positive work-life balance.

Sometimes that can be challenging for people who are passionate about their jobs, especially when working from home. Without the structure of being in the workplace, it’s tempting to keep working long into the evening.

And while working a few extra hours every now and then can be useful, excessive overtime often leads to burnout.

So, encourage people to stick to their working hours wherever possible. And the best way to do that is to…

Help staff to manage their workloads

For your employees who are keen to impress, it’s easy to take on more work than is feasible. And that can lead to problems, both for your business and your employee’s mental wellbeing.

So, help your people to manage their workloads by setting realistic targets.  

Have regular catchups by phone or video conference to discuss objectives and make sure your staff know what is expected of them on a day-to-day basis.

Set timescales for delivering tasks and encourage employees to raise any concerns with you before they start. If work is taking longer than expected, discuss openly why they’re struggling to deliver to schedule.

Those conversations might be awkward at first, but it’s better to address any issues quickly than let the problem grow worse.

Train managers to spot the signs of stress

As mentioned above, managers should stay in close contact with staff while they work from home. And not just to monitor their performance…

Managers are often the first to notice the signs of work-related stress or burnout. These can include irritableness, a drop in performance, noticeable fatigue, increased levels of sensitivity or deliberate isolation.

Train your managers to spot these warning signs but remember: your managers probably aren’t medical professionals.

For serious issues around mental wellbeing, often the best thing to do is help staff to seek professional support.  

Use an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

One way to make sure your employees have access to the support they need is to offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

An EAP is a confidential service provided by qualified wellbeing experts. Your employees can call the EAP advice line any time of day and get help to overcome personal problems, such as stress, anxiety or even substance abuse. 

Find out how an EAP can support your staff through their toughest life challenges. Click here for more info.

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