Employee burnout can have far-reaching consequences. When even a small percentage of employees experience burnout, it can affect your entire team, your customers, and ultimately the business itself. And after a year like we've had, it's no wonder that 76% of American employees report having felt burnout at some point over the last year, also known as pandemic fatigue.
We all know to look out for the signs of burnout, like drops in mental and physical health, productivity, engagement, and focus and concentration. But will we know what it looks like when our employees start to recover?
Here are ten signs to look out for that can indicate that your team is on the road to COVID burnout recovery:
Sign #1: Employees feel empowered and in charge of their workday.
One of the biggest causes of burnout during the pandemic was lack of control. Teams were forced to adapt to new ways of working and connecting in a short amount of time. Many people also found themselves facing a larger workload, with research from Bloomberg indicating the average workday increased by more than two hours during the pandemic. And when asked, more than half of employees in the same study said being empowered to keep communications and expectations within company work hours would help address burnout.
If you aren't sure your employees feel empowered and in charge of their workday, do what you can to give them more control. Support your team by giving them autonomy over their assignments, a flexible work schedule, and plenty of boundaries around the regular business day.
Sign #2: Productivity is on the rise.
One of the clearest signs your team is recovering from COVID burnout is if you see a dramatic increase in productivity. In the midst of the pandemic, one survey from Eagle Hill reported that half of the workers said they were experiencing burnout, 45% reported being less productive, and 36% felt less positive about their careers.
Given that burnout symptoms include difficulty concentrating, disillusionment, and lack of enthusiasm, seeing that your team is completing work accurately and in a timely manner and appears ready and eager to take on new assignments is a clear sign of burnout recovery.
Sign #3: Taking advantage of flexible work arrangements.
The sudden shift to remote work brought on by the pandemic introduced many employees to the benefits of working from home. Now, about 68% of workers believe the "ideal" workplace model is a hybrid model of working where they split their time between an office and a remote location. Is your team communicating what their preferences are when it comes to their work location and schedule? Are they taking advantage of the flexible options available to them? Those are good indications that they are keeping burnout at bay.
Sign #4: Engaging in frequent communication with co-workers and managers.
A key component of burnout recovery is frequent communication among team members. Communication helps establish a solid connection between co-workers and between employees and managers, while a lack of communication leads to stress and frustration. In fact, before the pandemic, one study revealed that as much as 80% of the US workforce reported feeling stressed because of ineffective company communication. As you review your team communication, take note if your employees are interacting regularly with the new forms of communication you implemented over the last year, such as video conferencing and chat messaging.
Sign #5: There is awareness of the available mental health benefits, and they are using them.
The pandemic highlighted the importance of mental health benefits, with 27% of employees stating they needed support for burnout during the pandemic. Fortunately, employers are responding, and according to the same study, 68% of companies have plans to expand their mental health offerings over the next year.
Making sure your teams are aware of what benefits are available and encouraging them to use them is an important component of burnout recovery. The widespread adoption of telehealth, including on-demand and app-based services, demonstrates that employees are taking an active role in managing their mental health and burnout recovery.
Sign #6: Awareness of time off benefits/paid time off benefits, and people are using them.
During the pandemic, many employees took less time off than they typically would, with 72% of American workers reporting they did not take a summer vacation last year. Some employees were concerned that taking any time off would put them at risk for potential layoffs, and as many as 13% stated feeling guilty about taking time off when they were working from home.
A good indication that your team has recovered from COVID burnout is seeing they are aware and informed about the time off benefits available to them, and most importantly, they're not afraid to use them. You can help avoid future burnout by reminding them you support their use of time off and that company leaders will be doing the same.
Sign #7: Managers are leading by example when it comes to mental health.
COVID burnout hit managers particularly hard, with 72% of managers reporting feeling more pressure during the pandemic. Managers who cite having higher levels of burnout are also rated as more ineffective by their employees. That's why it's so important that managers lead the charge when it comes to mental health, modeling healthy boundaries by taking time off, using benefits, and adopting flexible schedules to do their work. When employees see their managers "walk the talk," they are viewed as more relatable, helping to build trust and making them feel more comfortable to prioritize their mental health as well.
Sign #8: Seeking new learning and development opportunities.
During the pandemic, many organizations focused less on skills training and more on shifting their business operations and providing workers with emergency resources for concerns like mental health and child care. But as the urgency of the pandemic subsides, employees are turning their attention back to career advancement. A team that expresses interest in new learning and development opportunities, and is inquiring about upskilling, reskilling, and pathways for advancement, has recovered from burnout and is ready to look toward the future.
Sign #9: Voluntary turnover is low or slow.
A recent survey revealed that 26% of employees are considering leaving their current job once the threat of the pandemic subsides. Since it can cost about six to nine months of an employee's salary to replace them, it's important for companies to prioritize retention efforts and keep these employees engaged. If you see that voluntary turnover is low or slowing down, that's a good sign burnout is being managed.
Sign #10: A strong and growing employer brand.
For many organizations, COVID and the resulting burnout became an opportunity to hit pause on just about everything except treading water. You might have slowed down or stopped employer branding initiatives altogether, and employees may not have been able to prioritize employer brand-building activities like leaving reviews and touting company values on social media. If you see employees picking up where they left off, leaving positive Glassdoor Employer reviews, that's a great sign COVID burnout is on its way out.
Cohesive teams make for a strong employer brand. Glassdoor can help you engage with your employees and manage your brand. Contact us to learn more.