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How to spot WFH burnout in your staff and how to prevent it

How to spot WFH burnout in your staff and how to prevent it

Posted 01st September, 2020 by Sarah

Before the Covid-19 crisis began many people viewed working from home as a walk in the park. No commute, no boss watching over their shoulder, the option to watch daytime TV whilst working.

However, after Covid forced up to half the UK’s workforce into remote working, a new picture has begun to emerge of the toll that working from home can really take on workers.

Research by the Office for National Statistics suggests that just under a third of people have worked more hours than usual while they’ve been working remotely.

Other studies have found that workers are sending more out of hours emails.

And further research has found that the increased ICT demands associated with working from home can lead to insomnia.

Of course, not all employees are the type to speak up when they feel stressed. Some might feel that admitting they are stressed is a sign of weakness.

In these cases, it’s up to employers to keep an eye out for the signs of burnout.

Below is a list of things to look out for in your team members. And after that there’s a list of tips for establishing a company culture that’s anti-burnout.

Increased mistakes: In its classification of burnout as a disease, the World Health Organisation suggests that burnt out workers experience a reduced professional efficacy. So, if a member of your team is making a few more errors than usual, it might be worth checking in with them.

Lack of input: The WHO’s definition of burnout also highlights ‘feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion’ as a symptom. So, if you’ve got a member of your team who has started to contribute less to things like brainstorming sessions or meetings, it could be a sign that they’re feeling the stress of working from home.

Sarcasm or negativity: Again, the WHO suggests that feelings of cynicism related to one’s job is a symptom of burnout. So, keep an eye out for any team members who are being a bit more despondent or less passionate about their projects than they were before.

Lateness to meetings: When you work from home, you’d think it would be easy to attend a meeting on time. That’s why tardiness is a good sign that something might not be quite right with a team member. Research also shows that lateness to meetings correlates with job satisfaction levels, intent to quit and satisfaction with the meeting in general.

5 tips for preventing burnout as part of company culture

Impose blackout hours:Research shows that when workers feel they’re expected to check emails out of hours – even if they don’t physically check them – it can lead to feelings of anxiety. So, let your team know that it’s okay to turn off email and group chat notifications when they have finished working for the day.

In the current remote working climate, you may have team members who work irregular hours to fit in with other responsibilities like childcare, so encourage them to turn off notifications when they are not officially working, too. They may also want to set out of office replies to explain they’re not working traditional hours and to let clients or colleagues know when they can expect a response.

Offer positive social encounters:Experts believe that when workers feel like they are part of a community at work, they are less likely to be affected by burnout.

Offering social encounters isn’t easy at the moment, however, it’s not impossible. Try offering things like ‘virtual coffee breaks’ and virtual happy hours. Or, if you need a little help organising everything, try leaning on a tool like Know Your Team.

Don’t forget to reward staff:Researchers have found that when people feel like they’ve been insufficiently recognised and rewarded, they’re more vulnerable to burnout.

You can read about a number of simple ways you can recognise and reward your remote teams in our blog ‘How to deliver employee recognition when your team is working from home’.

Encourage time off: If your business is working with a skeleton staff at the moment, team members might feel like there’s no good time to take a holiday. However, studies suggest that workers should take a break from their jobs once every 43 days to avoid symptoms of burnout.

Teach team members how to ‘boundary cross’: Psychologist Blake Ashforth coined the term ‘boundary crossing’ to describe the activities workers do that help them make the transition from work to home life.

Examples of these activities include commuting to the office from home and getting changed out of work clothes when they return home.

When employees work from home, these boundary crossing activities usually disappear and it means people struggle to make the transition from work to home, leaving them feeling ‘always on’.

It can help to talk to your team about the phenomenon of boundary crossing and encourage them to set up new behaviours in the place of old boundary crossing ones. So, your team members might not be able to commute to work in the morning, but they could go for a short morning walk or jog. Or you could ask your team to dress for the office, so they can get changed after work.

Don’t let your website be a source of stress

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If you need faster, more reliable hosting visit our webhosting pages.

Categories: COVID-19, Small Businesses

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