We’ve all felt stressed at work. But what happens when that stress doesn’t go away?
Chronic stress is what’s known more commonly as “burnout”.
Being burnt out affects the stressed employee, their family, and their business in more ways than one. So, what can you do as an employer to offset stressors in your staff so they can stay healthy?
In today’s article, we’ll explore burnout and how you can battle it back as a wellness-minded employer!
Why does burnout matter?
COVID-19 has affected the health of millions and millions of individuals directly. But the pandemic has also had adverse effects on the mental health of many more.
As people lose social outlets, and grow concerned for the security of their jobs, stress creeps into our lives.
In North America just prior to the pandemic, approximately 1 in 10 adults were experiencing symptoms of anxious or depressive disorders. During the pandemic, that number is estimated to have gone up to 4 in 10.
We see this trend during every economic downturn. But those rates also translate into serious cases of substance abuse, worsening physical health complications, and even suicide.
From a business standpoint, health equals wealth. When your team is struggling with physical and mental health issues, production is reduced, which can continue to add stress to the people who make your business work.
By battling burnout for your employees, you can protect them and your company too.
What are some signs of burnout?
As we mentioned, burnout is chronic stress.
This means it’s a result of ongoing stressors in your employees’ lives.
Prolonged periods of anxiety and depression show themselves differently for every person, but here are the top signs that someone is suffering and in need of support:
- Lack of motivation
- Frustration, cynicism, and other negative emotions
- Slipping job performance
- Declining cognitive performance
- Interpersonal problems at home and at work
- Not taking care of yourself
- Being preoccupied with work when you are not at work
- Decreased satisfaction
- Health problems
Burnout is also often difficult for people to talk about, especially with their employers. Be mindful that the signs might be subtle, particularly in the workplace.
How can I help my staff, as an employer?
The first step is being aware that this is a very real problem, and that no industry is immune to the effects of burnout.
It’s also a good starting point to take stock of what stressors exist in your work environment. Do you have long hours? Physically or mentally demanding work? Are you practicing enough social distancing to make them feel safe?
Then, ask yourself if there are ways you can reduce those stressors.
The next step is to ensure that your staff is educated on what burnout looks like, and how they can protect themselves from it. Talk to them about simple daily practices they can take to shield themselves from stress, such as:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating the right amount
- Eating frequently
- Drinking enough water
- Maintaining social outlets
- Talking to a therapist if it’s too much to handle on their own
After giving them the right information, you also need to ensure you are promoting positive behaviour during work-related activities.
That means ensuring your staff are taking their breaks, and have healthy food and drink options available. You can also institute company-wide wellness activities, including:
- Exercise breaks
- Virtual meditations
- Group trainings during the day
- Healthy eating challenges
- Mindfulness webinars
- Video call happy/coffee hours
Consider providing them with resources they can access in their off-hours, as well. A gym membership, or a subscription to a relaxation app can help ensure they are keeping their energy levels high, even at home.
It’s important that any actions you take come from management, and that your leaders are leading by example when it comes to partaking in stress-relieving activities.
It’s also more important than ever to celebrate successes, no matter how small, and ensure that your team has visibility on the progress of the business — especially if you’ve gone remote.
You can also help staff individually by helping them break down tasks, ensuring they sign off/disconnect when their shifts end, and providing extra vacation time when possible.
By giving them more flexibility, and more control over how they organize their time, they will feel the strings of stress loosen up, and they’ll be more able to handle whatever comes their way.
Battling burnout is all about balance.
When your team has a healthy personal life, their professional life will flourish too.
So keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of chronic stress in your staff, and support them during the pandemic and beyond!