As tempting as it is to turn the page on 2020, this year has not shaped up to be the new normal we all expected. After a year and a half of dealing with COVID-19, pandemic fatigue has set in. Continued concerns with the virus, economy, and social unrest have left many feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and lonely. Now, with the rise of the delta variant, ever-changing mask recommendations, children returning to schools, and hybrid work models, we are reaching the heights of what we can handle. As a result, leaders must consider work burnout and how these changes are affecting employee engagement, health, and behavior.
At Corporate Health Partners, we have examined three areas in which employee health has been impacted by Covid-related fatigue and how leadership can make a difference in protecting their employees.
1 The hybrid work model doesn’t necessarily mean more flexibility, and many employees work longer hours on the days they are at home. Think about it – normally there is a definitive start and end to their workday.
Now there is less distinction between start and end times. Add on all the other responsibilities employees are juggling, like kids, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercise, and it’s easy to see why many haven’t been able to keep up.
As stress levels and fatigue increase, employee engagement and healthy habits have decreased or fallen off completely. Leaders need to listen closely for signs of exhaustion and respond accordingly. Avoid scheduling meetings at lunch breaks and Hold meetings that allow for flexible attendance without review materials. These walking meetings allow employees to leave their desks during the day without getting bogged down by handouts, note-taking, and Zoom fatigue.
Offer flexibility to the start and stop of the workday to encouraging employee engagement and support healthy habits. This allows employees better opportunities for sleeping in, exercising before work, or having time to prepare breakfast before opening the computer.
Enhance Employee Engagement by Supporting Mental Health
2 A recent study found that about 4 in 10 adults reported dealing with anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted sleeping, exercise, and eating habits, as well as substance use and chronic conditions
Now more than ever, it is important for leadership to understand and vocalize the importance of mental health and stress management and learn how to support team members.
In a leadership role, understanding how mental health impacts employee engagement and health should be your top priority. Begin by scheduling training for yourself and your leadership team. Mental Health First Aid training focuses on how to identify signs of emotional distress, how to respond to someone experiencing a mental health crisis, and resources for additional support. This investment is a proactive way to help leadership prioritize employee engagement, health, and well-being.
You can also support workplace mental health by encouraging employees to take advantage of services covered by company insurance, like employee assistance programs (EAP). These programs provide employees with opportunities to seek help. Beyond mental health services, EAPs provide confidential assistance regarding financial issues, substance abuse, and legal aid.
Promoting employee engagement, health and well-being is an important shift of focus in the workplace. Allow employees to slow down. While busy seasons are unavoidable, think through how tasks and responsibilities can be divided so individuals or teams aren’t taking on too much at once to reduce fatigue and burnout.
With the future uncertain, and stress levels at an all-time high, removing the stigma around mental health and promoting services to help employees take responsibility for their mental health is key.
Place An Emphasis On Employee Engagement Through Connection And Self-Care
3 Being stuck at home, avoiding travel, and working from home has isolated many from interactions they would normally have throughout the week. Social interaction and keeping employees connected is one of the key pillars of providing support and paying attention to mental health needs as discussed above.
Beyond virtual team meetings, happy hours, and other initiatives companies put into place to encourage employee engagement, there needs to be more of a focus on fostering human connection and self-care.
Promoting self-care is an effective way to foster connections and encourage employee health. When trying to reduce burnout, it is no longer optional for employees to ignore their needs. The fear of job loss during the pandemic prevented many employees from taking time off. Leaders need to demonstrate the importance of scheduling breaks by doing it themselves and encouraging their employees to do the same. Allow your employees to utilize vacation time without feeling the need to check-in or respond to emails.
This could also look like hosting meditation, mindfulness, or yoga classes at work, offering access to You can also promote employee engagement and health by hosting meditation, mindfulness, or yoga classes at work, offering access to apps that focus on sleep and stress management, or providing reasonable accommodations to those that need additional time off to deal with mental health issues. Rest, recovery, and a focus on well-being should be at the front of the conversation.
By Prioritizing Employee Health, You Can Prevent COVID Burnout
Now is the time to act. Through implementing small changes and promoting self-care, you can encourage employee engagement and foster healthy habits to beat the dreaded COVID-related burnout.
To learn more about Corporate Health Partners wellness programs and how to improve employee engagement, contact us today.