Burnout is already a major concern in the workplace, but add onto it the possibility of working from home for an unknown amount of time, and it can become an even bigger concern.
In fact, about 90% of employees say they’ve experienced moderate to extreme stress since they began working from home, and almost 70% said that this has been the most stressful time in their careers (source: a study by Ginger).
As you lead your employees into this new normal, whether it includes permanent remote or partially remote work, here are some tips to help avoid burnout.
- Encourage open communication. Be open and willing to answer questions that may plague the minds of your employees during this time. Make sure any updated HR policies or new rules are communicated very clearly and are understood by your employees. Welcome questions or concerns and help employees feel comfortable accepting the new norm.
- Respect your employees’ boundaries. It can be tempting to check in or over-monitor your employees when you’re not seeing them face-to-face every day. Take a step back and make sure you’re respecting their boundaries. That means if you do need to meet with them, rather than an impromptu phone call or message, schedule a meeting with them. This will help them better prepare for their days. If you do need to call or message them without a meeting, make sure it’s within normal business hours.
- Encourage them to stick to their regular hours. It’s incredibly tempting for employees to work well into the night when they’re remote, because there isn’t a clear end to the day. Remind them that it’s healthy to stop working at a specific time so they don’t “bring work home with them,” even if they’re already home.
- Encourage breaks. Have you noticed employees taking less vacation days since working remotely? If they can work from anywhere, they may take full advantage of that and bring their work on a family vacation or to a park day with their children. Encourage them to take breaks as they need them, whether that means an extra hour at lunch one day to spend time with their family or to take care of their kids, or a few days to relax and refresh.
- Focus on results over hours. A remote workforce requires some flexibility from everyone, including you as a leader. That may mean that rather than focusing on how many hours employees are working, you may need to focus on results instead (within reason, of course). Productivity may be higher or lower for employees when working remotely, depending on what their home life looks like. But if the results are there and you’re not noticing a significant dip in productivity or capability, you’re likely in good shape.
- Give them opportunities to let loose together. You likely had some perks of being in the office pre-COVID-19 — maybe you catered lunch for your employees often, or maybe you had regular happy hours in the office. Make sure you don’t lose these community-focused activities now that you’re at home. Host virtual happy hours, send gift cards for a food service and host a virtual team lunch, host small socially distant get-togethers outside of work… there are plenty of opportunities to connect with your employees.
- Check in on them regularly. Set up a random meeting with each employee every month or so to see how they’re doing personally, how they feel about their work, and if they have any concerns. It can be tough for employees to feel like they can reach out if they’re struggling, and showing that a leader cares about them can make all the difference. Be ready to implement change if needed and to encourage them to get what they need to do their best work.
- Recognize outstanding work. It may be tough for your employees to feel connected to each other and to the work everyone is doing without being around it constantly. If a team or individual does an outstanding job at something, make sure everyone is aware. Share examples of great work as motivation for others and to show employees that their hard work is being noticed. This can make a huge difference in an employee’s perception of their work.
What struggles have you come across while working from home? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions or concerns. We may even feature your questions in an upcoming Coffee Chat. Check our social media for details on when and how to join, and check back here for recordings.