How to Prevent Employee Burnout

Topics: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Summary: Employee burnout has always been around, but COVID-19 has brought a surge in additional emotional and physical stressors. Learn the signs of burnout and tips on how to prevent it from happening to your workers.

For the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives. At the beginning of the pandemic, employees, who were able, adjusted to remote work while businesses were shut down to prevent the spread of the virus. Essential workers, such as healthcare providers, grocery store workers, delivery services, transportation workers, first responders, and more, reported to work every day to provide the services we rely on. Today, as the spread of the virus is lowered after surges for the Delta and Omicron variants, both types of workers have experienced stress, anxiety and isolation, impacting both their health and productivity.

Increased Employee Burnout During COVID-19

Before the pandemic, employee burnout cost up to $190 million every year in healthcare costs. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. The emotional toll from the coronavirus pandemic will likely increase that cost exponentially. In fact, according to a recent report, 40% of employees list burnout as the top reason for leaving their job.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, financial concerns were one of the leading causes of stress for Americans. Today, anxiety from the unknowns about the virus have increased stress levels. More than ever, it is important that you understand the signs of stress, anxiety and employee burnout and can manage these issues or know where to go if you need help.

What is Employee Burnout?

If one employee is feeling burnout, it can affect an entire team, the customers and ultimately the business itself. Employee burnout, which is the result of physical and emotional exhaustion and work stress, has three characteristics:
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Lack of energy
  • Job dissatisfaction
Employee burnout can happen at any time; however, it has become more prevalent during the coronavirus pandemic. Some common causes of burnout include:
  • Overwhelming job demands
  • Conflicting job requirements
  • Lack of proper resources or training
  • Shortage of constructive feedback
Employee burnout can have an impact on the worker’s health, as well as workplace safety and productivity. According to Risk and Insurance, burned-out employees are less aware of their surroundings, which can increase workplace accidents. Burnout leads to ineffectiveness, decreased job satisfaction, reduced commitment to the organization, a disruption to the team and, ultimately, the company.

Signs of Work from Home Burnout

Employees working from home have been adjusting to a new routine of work, childcare, homeschooling their children and, in some cases, taking care of sick relatives. The stressors from coronavirus add to chronic stress that many employees already experience. While keeping in contact with team members via communication tools is great, some people thrive on human interaction, which causes them even further mental distress. The pressure of it all, plus the uncertainty of coronavirus, has increased feeling burnout and decreased employee engagement.

Another cause of employee burnout is the expectation that if you are working from home, you are always available and can take on more work. Some workers feel overwhelmed by the additional workload, working additional hours and lack of downtime. Employers can help their employees with burnout by allowing flexible work schedules, providing open communication channels, and have honest discussions about managing workloads when working remotely.

The signs of burnout for remote workers include:
  • Lack of concentration
  • Easily upset or angry
  • Inconvenience to people and their work
  • Hopelessness
  • Disengagement or withdrawal
  • Seem demoralized, worried or stressed out
  • Absenteeism

Essential Worker Burnout Symptoms

Essential employees who are working onsite during peaks of COVID-19 have put themselves on the front lines of the response to the virus every day. Most workers have never experienced a heightened level of stress, increased workload, or potential health risks while they are performing their jobs. Also, some essential workers have put themselves in social isolation to protect family members leading to feelings of loneliness and depression.

Front line workers, especially healthcare workers, are battling COVID-19 while also fighting against the onslaught of stress, anxiety and mental and emotional distress. Many healthcare providers could have a hard time asking for mental health support as they treat patients during the pandemic.

How to Prevent Employee Burnout

avoid employee burnout during covid-19 The immune system can be greatly affected by higher stress and anxiety levels, leaving workers more susceptible to illness. It is important to remember that you are not a failure if you are feeling stressed or anxious. You are not alone, and it is okay to feel like that.

April is Stress Awareness Month and we shared several tips for managing stress during COVID-19 and beyond. In addition to those tips, experts suggest the following tips that could help to manage or relieve stress:
  • Keep moving: For people working from home, remember to take breaks. Go outside and take a walk to help clear your head.
  • Utilize your support system: Surround yourself with as many positive people who you can go to for support. Avoid negative people as much as possible as they can bring down your mood, making your burnout worse.
  • Understand your stressors: Acknowledging where your stress comes from makes it easier to confront and find the right coping strategy. Also, understand your body’s cues that could indicate that something might be wrong. The symptoms include trouble concentrating, irritability, low energy and tiredness.
  • Be realistic: Know your body’s limits and do not go past them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Most importantly, remember that you are human, after all.
  • Limit news intake: If watching or reading the news is a stress trigger, then limit the amount of news that you consume per day. Turn off the television, set down your phone and take a break from social media.
  • Find a stress relief method: Do something that helps to relieve your stress, such as going for a walk, talking to a friend, writing a journal, exercise regularly, or enjoy a good meal.
  • Utilize mental health services: Reach out to mental health resources and professionals, including support groups for assistance. Employers should have information for their staff for mental health resources.
  • Control your day: Keeping a schedule for your day will help give you control for a situation that seems out of control. Getting up at a scheduled time every day, dressing for work, and planning outside exercise time are all excellent examples. Keep reasonable work hours and take time off to refresh.

Tips to Manage Employee Burnout At Work

AmTrust is Here for Our Small Business Insured

Employee satisfaction directly correlates with higher productivity. AmTrust understands and supports small and mid-sized business by offering a variety of insurance solutions, including workers' compensation, businessowners policy, commercial package and cyber insurance. For more information about our small business insurance solutions, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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