Working from home full-time provides a different experience for employees. While it has proven to be beneficial for plenty of people, it does come with its own set of challenges that can cause severe issues if not dealt with properly. Managers have a much more challenging time keeping a close eye on their employees to see if their mental health and morale are at optimal levels. Managers can’t walk up to their employees and see if any of them are working late or taking lunch breaks.
If employees are not taking proper breaks in between their work, they will start to experience burnout. One of the many raising concerns before the pandemic hit was employees experiencing burnout in the workplace. That concern hasn’t dropped since it has continued to increase even with the benefits they gain from working at home. It’s not too surprising that employee burnout levels continued to remain high in 2020, with COVID-19 being a massive contributor to this growing issue.
According to Gallup, remote workers are experiencing higher levels of burnout than their office-site counterparts. The home lifestyle may be a massive contributor to a remote employee's increasing levels of burnout. With the constant need to deal with their kids or pets making noises and dealing with Zoom calls and Slack messages, it can all lead to some severe strain on the person's mental health.
As the manager of the team, you need to help your employees by ensuring they do not burn out from the daily grind of life. If not, your employees will start to feel more tired than usual, lose their sense of purpose, start lashing out on insignificant stuff, and forget basic functions like eating, hydrating, and sleeping.
For this post, let’s go over what you can do to help your remote workers avoid burnout.
The manager and employees need to be aware that mental health problems will only worsen if they ignore the fact that it exists. The stress of trying to balance out one's life when working from home and dealing with feeling isolated can swiftly cause remote employee burnout if not addressed immediately. Here are some symptoms of burnout that you should keep an eye out for from your employees:
- Seemingly tired on the Zoom call because they didn’t receive enough rest.
- The employee seems to have lost motivation, and they do not seem driven to succeed like they initially did before.
- Seems irritated, and arguments have become more frequent among team members and managers.
- Constantly making mistakes and oversight that seem negligent and out of character.
While you do not need to ask your employees any personal questions, checking up on them frequently, and providing some exciting activities during your virtual meetings, help lessen stress levels. If you ignore the signs of burnout, there is a good chance that your employees will become less productive, disengaged, absent from work, quit, or even cause a high health insurance claim because of stress-induced sickness.
Taking the time to talk to them about offering flexibility for their schedule can go a long way in minimizing their stress levels. Working at home means they are constantly dealing with family members who need their attention as well. Flexibility provides them with more time to attend to personal matters without feeling overwhelmed by needing to get work done on time.
Conduct an anonymous survey
An excellent way to check up on how your remote team is generally doing is by conducting an anonymous survey. These surveys can be conducted every quarter to see how your team is currently doing and what you can do to improve their current issues. Since it’s anonymous, they are more likely willing to participate and make their feelings heard on the matter. Ask the question and listen to what they are saying. Use the information you gain from these surveys to take action before the problem becomes more severe.
You can even take the time to address these issues during a team meeting and ask your whole team what you can do to assist them with these issues. Depending on the answers they give you, come up with a plan that can be implemented to assist them with their problems, such as offering online meditation classes or virtual therapy.
Provide meaningful assistance
No one enjoys being put on the spot and forced to talk about any of their personal issues, especially if it's in front of their colleagues. Business leaders need to be discrete in the distribution process of their mental health resources to every remote employee. The email should provide information about access to mental health resources through the organization's employee assistance program if one has been established.
Frequent one-on-one video calls provide managers an excellent opportunity to carefully assess how each of their remote team members is dealing with their mental health. The workers need to feel like they can trust their team leaders if they do decide to speak up about sensitive topics. Keeping those lines of communication open and pressure-free is essential, along with trust and confidentiality. Offering a simple greeting with genuine concern is really all a manager should do when speaking to their employees. If the employee feels comfortable enough, they will speak up about their current situation.
Offering benefits such as a wellness program can also help. These benefits can include services that an employee can use to better themselves, such as gym memberships, yoga classes, or therapy. The program can incorporate anything that benefits their mental health. Your employees will feel gracious knowing that their business leaders care enough to provide these benefits for them.
GetApp conducted a study that revealed that more than 80% of the remote worker respondents claimed they feel pressured by management to work more hours than they should. That type of pressure can eventually lead to an employee feeling burnout from work, which evolves into resentment that will severely impact the entire remote team.
To avoid issues like these from arising, you need to encourage employees working at home to properly balance out their work and home life in a healthy way. Of course, that could be a complicated issue for most since they work in the same space. Several practices can be implemented by your employees that should help them strike a balance.
First off, you should schedule a meeting to discuss with your team what the working schedule expectations are and what communication methods need to be applied. Team members should not attempt to email, message, or call their fellow employees outside of their usual working hours unless it is an emergency. They should also not be expected to answer immediately if any of these messages or calls happen outside of working hours. You need to encourage and accept your employees' decision to use their paid time off to get a mental health break.
Don’t overdo video meetings.
Zoom is one of the most utilized tools for most businesses when the pandemic started escalating. Every remote team enjoyed the ability to remain connected through video calls. However, Zoom fatigue began to set in, and opinions changed for the worse.
According to this study, more than 76% of surveyed workers stated they participate in virtual meetings, nearly one-third of their workday. 38% of them have claimed that video call fatigue since the beginning of the pandemic, while 26% claim that the novelty and practicality of video meetings have worn off. 24% of them also claim that they consider it exhaustion and inefficient and wish they could communicate through other means.
Video meetings can drain the life out of a person since it requires them to focus more than traditional phone calls. Video conferencing forces a user to continuously split their attention from the call and other tabs they need to switch over. It doesn’t help that you are focusing on more than a single individual and switching between screens. Furthermore, monitoring our personal looks and how our background looks adds to that fatigue.
Managers need to ensure they are not overdoing it with constant video calls and meetings with their remote employees. They are most likely already feeling tired of being on a video call, and increasing those virtual calls will only lead to them feeling drained and burnout.
Focus on the results
To further reduce burnout among your remote employees, you need to concentrate on the results they provide you with, not the hours they worked. The amount of time spent sitting at a chair is not the most efficient way to know if they were productive. Instead, concentrate on their output. A percentage of your employees may be better at getting more finished in an hour than some people get done the entire day. Don’t force your employees to work for a total of eight hours in front of their computer, especially if they are getting work done in half that time.
Employee burnout among remote workers is becoming an increasing problem over time. You need to become proactive and make sure your team is not overdoing it with their work. If they seem overworked, then offer them some time off. If you don’t handle these issues any time soon, then your employee's productivity will drop, severely impacting your staff and organization.