It has been more than a year of working from home for many people and the prospect of this continues. The idea of burnout from not being able to separate, disconnect, or just stop working, is a topic that needs to be addressed by many companies. Hopefully not yours, but if it is, please continue reading.
Whether working from home is the new normal for your company or doing so due to safety precautions or even for those who worked remotely before masks became a part of our daily accessories, this needs to be addressed to have engaged employees and a positive work culture.
Below are 5 easy ways to help your employees disconnect from work.
Burnout has been an ongoing challenge as work demands bleed over into time after work. Late hours, missed dinners, loss of time with family and friends, and school events suffer due to work that “has to get done.” No delineation between work and home life leads people to just keep working. Employees were beginning to feel the stress years ago.
Even before the pandemic, a survey done by Deloitte found employees saying:
“Many companies may not be doing enough to minimize burnout: Nearly 70 percent of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization. 21 percent of respondents say their company does not offer any programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout.” (from https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/burnout-survey.html)
What to do?
1. Communicate the expectations. Tell everyone, it is okay to not feel guilty and have dinner with your family or significant other or friends or the dog. (More on that here: https://www.hrperspectives.org/single-post/work-life-integration-it-s-okay) Let them know the expected “office hours” and what constitutes a successful work day, week, month, etc. We understand, sometimes you must work until the work gets done, but then make sure they know the expectation is to take time off after that.
6% of virtual workers say they “never” check emails after hours. (ref #1 below) That means 94% do! - https://www.indeed.com/lead/preventing-employee-burnout-report
2. Tell them to commute. Yes, they are remote workers and they are not coming into the office. They sit at home in front of the laptop and when the proverbial 5 o’clock rolls around, they finish just a few more things… then it’s after 7 PM.
When we were in the office, the drive home gave us time to allow a mindset shift form work to home life. This can still occur with remote workers. They can get in the car, throw on their favorite song or podcast and decompress from the day of work. Perhaps belt out some Lizzo (I do my hair toss, check my nails…) or call a friend to tell them how the day went. This delineation between work and home can be impactful.
So, after the morning workout, coffee, and a shower, get in the car and drive for 10 mins (or whatever your choice is, just don’t be late to the office) and at the end of the day do the same.
3. Dress the part. Make sure all your virtual meetings are with camera on. Yes, you will get groans and push back at first, because you let it happen to where they don’t have to get up and get ready for work. With help, it can become a normal part of working from home and an expected part. This will help people get up and get their “game face” on, again, changing the mindset of at home in pj’s to work attire and a work thought process. (come back for findings on how dressing certain ways affects productivity)
4. Offer your company’s EAP. Some people struggle with challenges that mere driving and taking a shower in the morning will not address. They need some help from professionals (your job is to manage, not be a counselor). Your company should have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that has professionals in many areas including confidential counseling, assistance with legal matters, financial and more.
Get this information out to your people and let them decide for themselves if they need or want to ask for help. It might even help you who could use someone to talk to.
5. Reinforce this in your one-on-one meetings. Communication and transparency are probably the biggest problems we see with companies that we help. Here is your opportunity to reinforce the behavior you are looking for and save good employees from burn out. They work too hard and are worth too much to let them run themselves into the ground. Then you lose the person, their work, and their future potential.