“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen a significant amount of workplace exhaustion,” says Transitioning Well’s Co-Director, Dr. Sarah Cotton. “It’s essential for employers to manage it before things spiral out of control. Unfortunately, workplace exhaustion isn’t something that can be fixed with a few weeks of annual leave.”
Workforce exhaustion refers to feelings of being overextended and depleted of one’s emotional and physical resources. It emerges from prolonged exposure to chronic stressors, and, unsurprisingly, we are seeing a dramatic increase in the rates of exhaustion in the workforce currently.
We know that emotional exhaustion often precedes burnout, so intervening early can help to reduce rates of exhaustion and mitigate the risk of widespread burnout in our organisations.
“Early signs of burnout can vary between individuals. For me, I know I need to slow down if my chocolate intake goes up and my exercise levels dwindle,” says Cotton. “It might not be realistic for an employer to spot this, but other signals can be more obvious. For instance, if somebody is quieter than usual, more cynical, detached or reactive, then there could be something more going on behind the scenes.”
In the covid-context, it’s estimated workforce exhaustion contributes to the ‘Great Resignation; with 73 per cent of working professionals reporting experiences of burnout and exhaustion (BLIND, 2020).
Organisations have a unique opportunity to embrace their own ‘fresh start moments’ to establish sustainable and effective ways of working that support the wellbeing, productivity and renew the energy and motivation of their workforce.
Read on for three ways to manage the energy of your workforce through stressful periods.
» People are looking to their employers to define what the ‘next normal’ will be.
» People desire a greater degree of freedom over the way that they work:
» The majority of people (66%) want flexible working to become the new normal (World Economic Forum, 2021)
» Almost a third of the workforce indicated that they would look for a new employer if asked to return to the office full-time (World Economic Forum, 2021)
» People want more control over the way they work – so why not co-create the future of your organisation with your people.
Tools for co-creating the future
» Many employees are feeling the pressure to be always available for work.
» In a recent study, over one third of respondents indicated that they feel an obligation to be available 24/7 for their workplace (McKinsey & Company, 2021)
» Leads to inadequate psychological recovery from work.
Clear boundaries enable psychological recovery:
» Research indicates that clear and predictable boundaries explicitly defined by employers supports people’s wellbeing and recovery from work.
» These behaviours and associated attitudes need to be explicitly called out and modelled at all levels of the organisation.
Tools for creating clear boundaries
Research indicates that frequent check-ins from managers helps to reduce workplace fatigue and burnout and dramatically increase employees feelings of meaning, purpose, trust and belonging in their organisation.
In a recent survey, 90% of employees said they perform better when their company supports their emotional wellness (15Five, 2019). Organisations need to be proactive in recognising signs of exhaustion and actively take steps to manage the energy of the workforce through stressful periods.
Tools for making wellbeing conversations the norm
Exhaustion and burnout are a challenge all businesses are tasked with as many employees hit two years of working from home. Our team can create tailored solutions to your workplace. Contact us to learn how.