A recent survey found that 84% of Canadian employees have experienced burnout, with 34% reporting high or extreme levels.* Will easing public or workplace restrictions around COVID-19 automatically reverse employees’ pandemic-related burnout?
“It may not be that easy,” says Kart Vyas, WSPS Specialized Consultant. Kart defines burnout as “physical, emotional, and/or mental exhaustion resulting from persistent, prolonged unresolved stress that may take time and effort to heal and recover from.”
Much of this burnout has been fueled by pandemic worry, aggravated by increased workloads, longer work hours, isolation, and little vacation time. Employees who are experiencing burnout often have less energy, are less productive, have difficulty concentrating, and feel less motivated.
Well-being is composed of physical health, social health, and mental health. It is important that we support and engage in activities that incorporate all three aspects of well-being in our routine,” explains Kart.
What can you do to help your employees recover from COVID-related burnout? Because many different factors may contribute to COVID-related burnout, take a multi-faceted approach. Your end goal is to provide a physically and psychologically safe and healthy workplace. Consider these six opportunities:
- Ask employees how they’re doing. Conduct a comfort survey asking workers about their mental health and whether they are experiencing burnout. “Just participating in a well thought out comfort survey will provide mental relief for some employees by making them part of the decision-making process,” says Kart.
- Share the survey results, and how you plan to address employee issues and concerns, such as returning to work and devolving COVID requirements. Engage workplace stakeholders in identifying solutions.
- Raise awareness of COVID-related burnout. Educate employees on how to recognize symptoms, anticipate and adjust to difficulties, and set priorities. Introduce them to self-help techniques that focus on emotional, physical, intellectual, social and mental health. “Consistent daily routines help increase a sense of control in people with burnout,” notes Kart. Reassure employees they can speak in confidence with supervisors or HR about how to accommodate their needs.
- Assess workload levels. Prioritize tasks and keep expectations reasonable: base assignments and deadlines on each employee’s abilities, proficiency and experience. Encourage employees to speak up if they have questions or feel overwhelmed. Be open to employees’ ideas about how to do things better.
- Actively support work-life balance. Infringements on family time because of longer workdays, virtual schooling and expectations of being always available have contributed to COVID-related burnout. “Ensure employees are able to disconnect from work at the end of their prescribed workday, and that your company culture supports this.”** Encourage employees to take vacation time and proper rest breaks. Allow for flexible work arrangements so employees can meet personal or family needs.
- Put a mental health first aid policy in place. Train your employees to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental disorders and provide access to resources. Learn more about mental health first aid and how to respond to a mental health emergency.
How WSPS can help
Our workplace mental health/healthy workplace consultants can help you design a comfort survey for your workplace and implement healthy workplace solutions and wellness initiatives. WSPS ergonomists can assist with ergonomic assessments of workstations to achieve employees’ physical safety and comfort. Find out more by emailing or speaking with our on-duty consultant.
Sign up for any or all of these training solutions:
- Mental Health: Awareness (free 30-minute eCourse for employers, managers, supervisors, and front-line workers)
- Mental Health First Aid Training (2-day classroom or on-site training)
- Reducing Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace (free 30-minute eCourse)
- Workplace Mental Health: How Managers Should Respond (half-day classroom training, in person or virtually; can be delivered on site).
- Workplace Mental Health: What Health and Safety Committees Should Know (1-day classroom training)
- WSPS Right to Disconnect Infographic Poster
** Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act 2021, states that as of June 2, 2022 employers in Ontario with 25+ employees must develop a written policy giving workers the right to disconnect at the end of their workday. For insights on possible policy considerations, see 6 tips to launch a "disconnect" policy now.
The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date.