Creative Commons The rough start to 2021 has raised fears of a burnout spike in the workforce.
Months of pandemic stresses, parenting challenges and the ongoing economic fallout have left workforces burnt out and drained. Even holiday parties and winter breaks were often retooled this year to take stress and exhaustion into account.
But the tumultuous beginning to 2021 — including a more transmissible variant of COVID-19, a fumbling vaccine rollout and an attempted coup in the United States — have meant stressed employees haven’t caught a break, leading employers to fear burnout will hit with a vengeance.
UK workplace health experts believe a burnout spike may hit later this month, according to a recent article in HR Dive, set off by the disorder around the holiday season.
Another key factor affecting employees everywhere, according to a study by Kennesaw State University, is increased spillover; pandemic remote work setups have allowed work and home life to bleed into each other, amplifying stress and its physical effects. Gallup research from September, before recent infection spikes on both sides of the Atlantic, found that 29% of fully remote employees identified as feeling stressed either very often or always, compared to 18% pre-pandemic. The researchers concluded that “the emotional trauma from stress and worry has been even higher among remote workers than in-house workers throughout the pandemic due to the challenges of balancing home life and work in the same setting.”
Commercial real estate executives who have dealt with employee stress and morale, especially for those remote workers suffering from exhaustion and video call fatigue, suggest a few strategies for helping colleagues and employees during these difficult times: provide transparency from management, offer and support flexible time to help with caregiving needs and space for decompression, look for symptoms of overwork, and tweak benefits to offer remote mental health support. Experts also suggest increasing exercise and simple ways to separate, however briefly, work and professional life.