Gallup researchers noted that “we have a long road ahead to recovery and face new challenges associated with transitioning back to the workplace.” They warned, “If organizations fail to engage employees and fend off chronically high levels of stress and worry, the result could adversely affect millions of lives.”
What can company leaders do to help prevent employee burnout in an ever-changing business climate? How can you smooth the way for what psychologists have dubbed “re-entry anxiety?”
Here are seven suggestions.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 75 percent of high-performing companies regularly measure health status as a viable component of their overall risk management strategy.
To make one-on-ones truly effective managers should give members of their team the opportunity to provide forthright feedback and express their concerns and ideas while assured of absolute confidentiality. Trust is developed when managers agree to a course of action and follow up in a timely manner. As Simon Sinek says, “A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.”
Show that you care:
Show that you care by emphasizing a greater understanding of the need for a work-life balance that was heightened by the pandemic. Make sure employees know that honest feedback is desired and valued and establish back-to-the-office bonding sessions for small groups.
Working from home and flextime are here to stay and company leaders should make it easy for workers to switch back and forth between in-office and remote work. Make sure they have the right equipment at home—software and hardware. Make every effort to prevent them feeling isolated by building in social time online and while in the office.
Further many individuals will continue to have health concerns long after the pandemic is over. Reassure them by implementing health and safety protocols until risk is minimized. This could include staggered work hours so fewer employees are in the building at any given time and stepped-up office sanitation measures—especially something as simple as increasing the number of hand sanitizer dispensers. Encourage social distancing by reconfiguring spacing between desks and in common areas. Consider touchless technology for opening doors and insist that employees who feel ill stay at home.
Provide better training:
As McKinsey states, “Leaders should pursue a broad reskilling agenda that develops employees’ digital experience and their cognitive, emotional, and adaptability skills. Companies can’t be resilient if their workforces aren’t. Building your reskilling muscle now is the first step to ensuring that your organization’s recovery business model is a success.”
While many training programs can be pursued online there are some that require in-person workshops to be most effective. Companies will also discover that they need to involve third-party expertise as it is unlikely they have the necessary in-house talent.
It’s also good for the bottom line. A Gallup meta-analysis of more than 260 studies found that the business or work units that scored the highest on employee engagement had 21 percent higher levels of profitability than those with the lowest scores.
Understanding the real impact of burnout and how it can be countered goes a long way towards building a business that will thrive in the most difficult of circumstances. These seven steps will empower leaders to create more dynamic, rewarding, and productive relationships with their teams.