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The Burnout State of Mind

The Burnout State of Mind

The singer Neil Young once said ‘’its better to burn out than to fade away.’’ I’m sure he didn’t have the pandemic in mind.

Over the past year, many have expressed the belief that people working from home are having a great time, barely working at all and spending most of the day in their pyjamas.

This might be true for some, but given the increased complexity of working from home, not to mention the rapid pace of change in the working environment, we believe professionals need to team up to effectively solve problems and help staff who feel exhausted after a day’s work at home.

A recent major survey of employers in the UK said that for 47% of companies, mental health and wellbeing is the biggest challenge of working from home. The problem seems especially pronounced in the financial services sector, which has always been associated with huge pressure and burnout.

The problem seems to have dramatically increased during the pandemic. On the face of it, it is hard to understand why people working from home would be more likely to burn out.

The reason for this is not just about working from home, and it is a lesson to managers and employers everywhere.

For staff working from home, a huge amount of ‘decompression’ time is taken out of their day. This is time during the day used to relax, switch off and regather your thoughts. This could be the journey to and from the office, from a meeting or a quick chat with someone in the corridor over sport at the weekend, or what their plans are for next weekend e.g. ‘’now that you have bought the caravan, where do you plan to travel to?’’.

All of this time has now left a gap in the day for those working from home, and a lot of employees are filling it up with extra work.

Added to this is the removal of things to look forward to. Employees are doing more and more work, but can’t go to the pub on a Friday, aren’t looking forward to a holiday abroad, can’t spend the weekend with their parents, etc. The list is endless.

So many employees are trapped in a situation where they are stuck at home, working harder, coming under increasing pressure, feel stressed by the pandemic, and there is no release valve. Furthermore, their manager/employer is finding it increasingly difficult to manage their team and establish who is doing what, and when.

Therefore, as employers we need to be ever mindful of how our employees are doing and try to put ourselves in their shoes from time to time. It is a good idea to let them know they can take a bit of time for themselves during the day, go for a walk with the dog or finish up early. It is also essential to have regular video calls to check in and make sure they’re ok.

As employers we have a duty of care to our staff to look out for them and ensure that work is not causing undue stress or anxiety.

This blog has been written following the reading of Beating Burnout at Work, by Paula Davis. The book is a really short and direct publication to show how teams can work together to cope with stress. The author now teaches resilience to US soldiers, military personnel, hospital staff and corporate teams.

From ABCs (autonomy, belonging, confidence) to TNTs (tiny, noticeable things) we certainly found the book to be of practical and valuable use.


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