The pandemic has brought new responsibilities and stress to all workers, but especially to leaders who are expected to continue to provide answers in an uncertain environment. All the while they must drive their organisations forward and take on a bigger role in their employees’ wellbeing and mental health.
This isn’t without consequences. Research shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a surge in workplace stress.
With an easing of social restrictions and a return to the office for many employees, and yet many of our usual relaxation tools still unavailable to us, there are real fears we may be facing a post-pandemic burnout epidemic. What approaches should you take to protect yourself and your workforce from burnout?
As we move from a home working environment to flexi-working or in some cases a full time return to the office, it is anticipated that anxiety and stress may increase due to smaller team sizes, an increase in activity and lingering concerns about the pandemic.
Understanding burnout is the first step to protect yourself. It is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that may be caused by heavy workloads or long hours, a poor work-life balance or a lack of control over work. Burnout can happen to anyone in the workplace, whether you are working remotely or not.
While not a medical diagnosis, it is crucial you understand how burning out can impact you and your employees’ physical and mental health, and you are equipped to spot the signs of burnout. This may include feeling drained most of the time, a change in appetite or sleep habits, a sense of failure and self-doubt, or feeling helpless and defeated.
Consider also what triggers feelings of stress and anxiety and take steps to protect yourself. Though some factors will be outside of your control, it’s important to remove or avoid that which causes stress where possible.
It is imperative you check in with yourself: am I taking too much on? Do I feel I am unable to meet constant demands? Have I lost focus or interest in achieving my goals?
For many, a change of job or career isn’t a practical solution, but reframing how and where you work as well as what your options are may help you find value in your work.
According to public health experts, health professionals and researchers, you should prioritise your own work-life balance – especially at a time when the lines between home and work have become increasingly blurred – create new routines and put strategies in place to stay on top of things as well as maintain social contact with loved ones.
Many companies have implemented mental health policies for their employees since the start of the pandemic. Make sure you know who you can talk to and what support is on offer.
Besides seeking support, you should prioritise self-care, mindfulness, enjoying hobbies and socialising in order to protect yourself and recover from burnout.
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