In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified burnout as an occupational syndrome, linking its effects as contributors to several more serious diseases. Then the pandemic came along and, like everything else around us, took burnout to a whole new level. To understand more about employee fatigue and the burnout syndrome in the COVID-19 era, Business Review turned to Sorina Faier, Managing Partner at Elite Searchers, for another #FutureOfWork exclusive.
Even though the move to work from home removed some of the usual work related stress factors such as lengthy commutes and gave employees more flexibility, other problems arose in the new reality.
“Many employees are feeling stressed due to the pandemic, but there is an even more serious condition to watch out for burnout. This syndrome among the employees working during the COVID-19 pandemic is related to high workload, job stress, time pressure and limited organizational support.” Says Sorina Faier.
At companies which resorted to layoffs, furloughs and cutbacks caused by the coronavirus, the remaining employees had to pick up the slack and saw their workloads significantly increased. Another factor, the lack of social events outside of work was also a big contributor to the increased stress level of many employees. Add this lack of social interaction to the school shutdown and the switch to online education, and working parents who now have to juggle with their jobs and childcare simultaneously.
While virtually all employees were more or less affected by the pandemic burnout, some professions saw the worst of it. A LinkedIn survey showed that in 2020 burnout increased by 33 percent.
“Depending on the areas of activity, employees are less or more affected. The most affected is the healthcare sector. A recent international study reads that from a total of 2,707 healthcare professionals from 60 countries, fifty-one percent of them have reported burnout.” Sorina Faier told BR.
Causes and Symptoms of the Pandemic Burnout
“We also hear more and more of our candidates complaining about burnout, accusing fatigue, anxiety, depression, decreased concentration and lowered productivity, and lack of job satisfaction. Most of them have explained the burnout due to increasing workloads, understaffing, job security, stress associated with fears over coronavirus, social distancing and safety measures. This level of burnout is high and could increase as millions of employees continue to work from home, missing their social life, vacations or hobbies.” Sorina Faier gave an overview of her findings at Elite Searchers.
Top five drivers of employee burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic a recent study has identified in their recent research:
- 47% of employees say their burnt is caused by their workload.
- 39% say it’s from balancing work and their personal life.
- 37% say it stems from a lack of communication, feedback and support.
- 30% say they’re under time pressures and expectations are unclear.
- 28% point to performance expectations.
What is to be done?
With many employees still working remote, employers and HR mangers can face a though time in spotting and preventing burnout. But, according to HR experts, there are a few things that could help in identifying the syndrome before it creeps in your organization, such as constant communication, effective workload management, rewards and benefits programs, and inspiration and motivation campaigns.
“Many organizations have been adapting to remote workforces during the pandemic and it’s important that they have been managing their expectations during the transition and provide workers with resources they need to thrive in a work-from-home environment. Employers that would like to reduce the negative impact employee burnout has on productivity, employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention should monitor workloads and common signs of burnout, and improve constant communication, offer a better workload management and incentives for a job well-done.” Sorina Faier concludes.