The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that the average workday increased by about 50 minutes in areas with lockdowns. This wouldn’t be a problem if the additional work time resulted in increased productivity, but the risk of work-from-home burnout is cause for concern.
What is Job Burnout?
According to the Mayo Clinic, job burnout is “a special kind of work-related stress,” “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” The condition can affect both mental and physical health, and work-life balance can be a significant contributing factor. The consequences of work-related burnout may include depression, cynicism, insomnia, substance abuse, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and lowered immunity to disease. Job burnout does not meet the definition of a compensable consequence is a health problem that developed directly because of a proper workplace injury or workplace illness.
Spotting Job Burnout
The signs of burnout can be harder to spot when team members are working remotely. Don’t take it for granted that productive team members are satisfied with their jobs. Look for indicators like changes in attitudes about work, changes in work habits, and a decrease in responsiveness. An increase in health problems and time away from work may also signal burnout. Recognizing these signs early can help prevent decreased productivity and the loss of key team members.
Work from Home and Hybrid Work Environments May Help Avoid Job Burnout
Work from home and hybrid work environments may also help avoid job burnout because the staff doesn’t have to sit in traffic nor commute, they may continue to see their family/friends while at home, get to make meals at home, and being able to take your dog for a walk while on your break allows staff the opportunity to get some fresh air that might not be available while working in an office.
Tips to Help Avoid Job Burnout
Ignoring burnout will not make it go away. Here are nine tips for teams, and team leaders who want to prevent job burnout of staff working remotely, or in a hybrid work environment.
1. Support Job Ownership.
Team members who are working hybrid and remotely who feel like they aren’t in control of their work environment are more likely to experience a higher risk of job burnout.
Make them feel more connected and in charge by Involving them in decision-making that involves their job as much as possible.
2. Help Team Members Set Boundaries.
Don’t assume that hybrid and remote team members are always available to discuss work issues. Late-night email and text messages can make them feel that they must be on call 24/7—a sure recipe for burnout.
Let team members know the hours and days of the week you expect them to be available, then respect their boundaries. Better yet, use technology like a workforce management system that allows team members to know when staff is at work versus when they are on a rest period, meal period, holiday, PTO, etc.
3. Be Sensitive to Family Responsibilities.
Hybrid and remote team members may also be caring for children or an elderly relative at home. The added stress makes them even more likely to succumb to job burnout.
Be sensitive to their need for flexible hours to accommodate childcare and doctor’s appointments. Remember that they may require compassion and understanding during times of extra stress.
4. Minimize Meeting Fatigue.
The number of meetings increased during the pandemic, leading to a new problem: Zoom fatigue. Management may think frequent meetings are an effective way to track team members who are working from home, but too much time spent away from actual work can increase job stress and drastically reduce productivity.
Appropriately schedule meetings throughout the workday/workweek to enable staff time to do their day-to-day responsibilities.
5. Avoid Overloaded Inboxes.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the number of internal emails increased by at least 5% during the pandemic lockdown.
Since this is the primary mode of communication for those working remotely, try not to increase their stress with an overflowing inbox.
6. Stay Connected.
Instead of relying on group meetings for status, establish a time when each remote team member can check in for a one-on-one discussion about their progress and concerns.
Be on the alert for comments or body language that may be related to burnout and fix the situation before it worsens.
7. Take Your Rest Periods, and Meal Periods Uninterrupted by Work.
Everyone needs time away from the job to recharge, but remote team members who are anxious about job security may hold off on using the PTO they’ve earned.
Team leaders should set a good example by taking time off and encouraging team members to do likewise.
8. Look for Organization-Wide Solutions.
Burnout is a problem that can occur at any level of an organization, so look for solutions that will benefit the entire company.
The tools provided by a workforce management system increase transparency and help all employees stay connected and informed, which can make all the difference in the world when trying to prevent job burnout.
9. Treat Others the Way You Want to be Treated
Treating others differently than the way you like to be treated can cause confusion as a leader, and as a team member.
Remember the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.
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