Kuba is the founder of Zety — a career advice site visited by over 40 million readers a year.
With ongoing social distancing requirements in light of the pandemic, the line between work and nonwork has started to blur more than ever.
In fact, it’s possible that some employees feel pressured to double down on their deliverables without taking much-needed time off to recuperate, and they might fear they could lose their paycheck if they don’t put in extra effort at work.
That said, racing forward is also fraught with burnout that could lead to declining performance, apathy and inability to disconnect, among other things. That’s why it’s critical for businesses today to be extra vigilant in pinpointing burnout and taking measures to guard employees against it. Here’s how to do it:
Roll out boundaries.
It’s no secret that the prolonged remote work has turned employees’ homes into makeshift workplaces. As a result, most of them have likely lost a sense of time, with afternoons bleeding into evenings and weekdays spilling over into the weekends.
In fact, in cities that had virus-related lockdowns, workers were experiencing longer workdays, which can lead to higher burnout rates.
To help employees keep work and nonwork life compartmentalized, businesses should consider incentivizing staff to go off the grid and unplug after the workday is over. It’s critical to communicate to employees the importance of capping smartphone and work laptop usage after hours and discourage them from checking their devices for emails or messages once the workday is over.
On top of that, it’s good practice to encourage staff to take days off now and again — ideally every 43 days — to help them avoid growing mentally stretched.
Double down on virtual social interactions.
While it’s of paramount importance to help employees draw the line between professional and personal lives, businesses should also put in some elbow grease to help teams feel they are part of a community. According to research, creating this sense of community can help workers reduce feelings of loneliness and improve engagement, thus making them less susceptible to burnout.
And while offering in-person social encounters might not be safe at the moment, there are virtual social activities companies can take advantage of to promote a sense of team camaraderie.
Below is a list of four virtual social activities to help teams stay connected:
1. Throw a coffee break or pizza party.
2. Arrange a lunch date among co-workers.
3. Play quiz games together, such as trivia.
4. Host a Netflix movie night
Maintain a pulse on employees’ mental health.
While we’re all head-deep into the greatest work-from-home experiment to date, it’s the first order of business to put a more considerable emphasis on employees’ emotional well-being and start tracking their mental health. Otherwise, leaders won’t be able to recognize when direct reports struggle the most and will ultimately fail to provide them with the right tools and resources to relieve their mental stress.
To do this, human resources teams can put together a weekly or biweekly online survey designed to gauge each and every employee’s emotional and mental state. Afterward, based on the acquired data, line managers can balance out their workload, offer an empathetic ear during a one-to-one meeting or even suggest taking a few days off to grasp the nettle before it grows.
On top of that, it’s a good idea for companies to rethink workplace perks and offer something that will make a much better fit for their overall mental health strategies, such as providing exercise and wellness classes or online therapy sessions to employees.
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