Respondents to the latest State of HR report list burnout as the greatest consequence of the pandemic. In fact, the Great Resignation lingers, in part, because the burnout has gotten worse. Now, companies are facing inflation, the yanking of job offers, and the possibility of layoffs. While they are tightening their belts and being far more cautious, their workers remain overworked and burdened.
So, HR leaders are in hot pursuit of mental health and wellness solutions, ways to reach out and show they care. They want to help improve retention and ensure a functioning, healthy workforce. Knowing where to begin with a burnout prevention plan is challenging.
Access to Help
To start, HR professionals must connect their employees with resources to help them reduce stress, treat diagnosed mental illness, and everything in between. This requires due diligence. Experts suggest that HR leaders conduct surveys, ask questions, and listen to employees to learn what they need. Then, they can take action and provide solutions that will be used and are more likely to work.
Paid time off (PTO) is crucially getting redesigned for the new workplace. Aside from changing the delivery with options like unlimited PTO, companies are insisting people take time off. Goldman Sachs, for instance, will require employees to take a minimum of 15 days off per year beginning in 2023.
Even if some organizations do not have a minimum vacation policy, they are encouraging leaders to use their PTO to model healthy behavior. Many employees feel pressure to keep working, especially if they see their bosses chaining themselves to their desks. Getting people in the United States to use their PTO is part of a cultural shift that is taking place. Suddenly, people are interested in making work-life balance a priority. Getting time off and stepping away from work is a way to combat burnout.
Some HR leaders are pushing for mini breaks throughout the day. This could be a five- or 10-minute pause after a meeting or between tasks. The idea is for people to take a deep breath, go to the bathroom, reflect on their to-do list or what happened in the last meeting, walk around a bit, rest their eyes after hours on the computer, etc.
This is a shorter version of the traditional coffee break (but one certainly could grab a coffee or tea). Mini breaks allow people to transition from one task to another and briefly rest their mind, so they do not feel as though they are on the go 24/7. Some companies, as reported in the Employee Engagement and Experience for the Post-COVID World report, offer zen rooms that give people a chance to chill out at work.
Having better work-life balance can improve stress and reduce the likelihood of burnout. Again, it’s incumbent upon leaders in the organization to set the standard by not sending out emails before or after typical working hours, for example. Make rules about when teammates can call one another about work – and stick to them.
Most importantly, recognize when a meeting could be an email and do not schedule it. In fact, some companies are choosing at least one day per week with no scheduled meetings. These scheduling efforts might seem like small gestures, but clearing the calendar and separating work hours from personal hours can ease pressure.
Flexibility is the keyword of the moment. Employees want permission to work when and where they want as long as they maintain their output and deliver for their bosses. Many employers are not on board. There is a grand debate about working from home or returning to work with many in leadership preferring RTO.
Still, there are ways to be flexible and empathetic. For instance, if someone needs to pick up their kids from school, a manager can allow them to do so. In some offices, they allow workers to bring their pets to the office. Just knowing that one’s boss supports him if something comes up can help combat the stress that leads to burnout.
Lighten Work Loads
With the labor shortage that many are experiencing and the fact that employers are trying to do more with less, people are feeling overworked. In these cases, managers should delegate, so that people are sharing the burdens. Also, they can refrain from having people do repetitive tasks that might be nice but are not necessary. Perhaps, workers can gather numbers for the monthly report every other month instead.
Finding ways to help employees prevent burnout is a top priority for HR leaders. After all, burnout is contributing to the record number of Americans quitting their jobs, which is causing a labor shortage for many. To combat burnout is a way to work on retention.
By Francesca Di Meglio
Originally posted on HR Exchange Network