Hybrid working will change the needs of your staff.
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As we look to move out of the pandemic, businesses are now beginning to decide what their workplaces will look like. For some, this will be a return to the office, but many organisations are looking to incorporate a level of remote working to their operating practices.
The Telegraph reported that as many as one in four people could be working from home permanently.
There are many benefits to remote working as it can provide additional flexibility and some employees find it gives them a better life rhythm and increases their productivity. However working from home can make it more difficult for leaders and managers to monitor employee wellbeing. Burnout is a long process that can have devastating effects if left unchecked.
Some of the most common symptoms of burnout are irritability, fatigue or strained relationships. When you are not seeing someone physically on a daily or frequent basis it can be much harder to spot these signs or monitor behavioural challenges.
It is easy to send quick, positive messages to mask mounting stress or overwhelm. Here we offer some ways to spot the signs that your WFH employees might be on the road to burnout.
Withdrawing from colleagues and work
One of the most common burnout signs is a withdrawal from colleagues, social interaction and from their work. This increasing apathy might be clearer when working in person, but it can also be spotted by managers when working from home.
Leaders should be proactive in creating non-work related areas for discussion or interaction to ensure those working remotely continue to feel involved. Space to laugh and share experiences is important to preventing workplace stress.
Line managers can then monitor those who frequently do not participate and engage with them separately about their wellbeing using open questions to encourage them to share their feelings.
Similarly, if all employees are informed on the burnout signs to watch out for, it becomes easier for wellbeing levels to be monitored. Those around us are much more likely to spot the onset of burnout than ourselves.
Colleagues are then able to notice those who become less active in meetings or messages and flag it if they are concerned. When everyone plays an active role in creating an open workplace culture burnout can be prevented.
They are working excessively without breaks
The process of reaching adrenal burnout can take months and sometimes years. To avoid cases ever reaching this stage, managers need to be aware of unhealthy working patterns to watch out for that could contribute to growing burnout.
Many people have been working excessive hours out of fear of potential redundancy or needing to appear constantly productive. In addition, employees have been reluctant to take their holiday days due to lockdown restrictions on travel or have been saving them up for later in the year.
All these actions could place someone on the road to burnout if managers have not been proactive in monitoring holiday allowances or have been focused on time spent working rather than employee outputs.
Leaders should be encouraging staff to take breaks and holidays to protect their wellbeing and productivity and limiting work-related communication outside of working hours, unless previously agreed.
In addition, they could schedule some team activity or exercise during a lunch hour to encourage people to take their break.
They head straight to denial when it's raised
One of the first responses from someone who might be suffering from burnout is to deny this could ever be a problem for them.
If you speak to someone, voice your concerns about the way they are working and they refuse the idea they could ever be experiencing burnout, it is likely they are in the denial phase.
This might feel like it is ‘less serious’ because they haven’t snapped, but it can have dangerous implications if left unchecked.
Some of the most common signs of denial of the onset of burnout to watch out for are:
These feelings will pass if I can just get through this busy/intense period.
I will be fine if I can get through to my time off/annual leave.
Admitting that there might be a problem will cause people to think I am weak.
Leaders should be proactive in their approach to monitoring the wellbeing of their staff members while they’re working from home by knowing the behavioural signs to watch out for, the denial responses that could occur or the unhealthy working patterns to be vigilant over.
This will put them in a much stronger position to prevent burnout from occurring and support those who may be suffering.