Coronavirus will intensify burnout unless employers intervene

A third winter lockdown and continued uncertainties due to the pandemic has placed employees more at risk of burnout than ever before.

Although it is more challenging to spot the signs of burnout when staff are working remotely, there are still preventative and curative measures HR can put in place.

Speaking to HR magazine Debra Clark, head of specialist at Towergate Health and Protection, said that for an HR professional to support an employee experiencing burnout, the first step is to identify the specific work-related stressors.

“Encouraging open and honest conversations will help this process – not only at the time of identifying someone is experiencing burnout, but continually to ensure that any worrying markers are picked up early,” she said.

Addressing the challenge of identifying the signs when remote working, Clark added: “It’s important to pay extra attention to others – but also to ourselves. We may pick up warning signs in ourselves first and ignoring it is not the answer.”

Clark suggested HR work more closely with line managers to be better able to spot the warning signs and educate their employees as well.

She said: “Work-life balance should be made a priority, ensuring employees set clear boundaries between work and non-work and have a specific end to the working day.

“This is particularly relevant if they currently work from home.”

Further reading

Take the time to recharge

Winter wellbeing: Top tips for supporting employees

Mental health support for male employees

However, Clark emphasised that looking after line managers’ mental and physical health is important too.

“Managers must lead by example and if they are not in a good place mentally or physically, they will not be able to support others,” she said.

A report from Ricoh showed that pressures have mounted on middle managers during the national lockdowns.

Over half (50%) of managers reported struggling with employee wellbeing and mental health, with 45% saying keeping staff motivated, happy and productive has been their greatest challenge.

Clark added: “The company’s HR policy should have clear routes for managing stress and for obtaining support. Incorporating appropriate support should also be included within health and wellbeing benefits, and all support should be widely communicated.”