BusinessMirror

Pandemic-induced burnout and the workplace

- Atty. Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II

Aside from giving adequate break periods to employees, recognitio­n and appreciati­on of their work are also important. A simple thank you can go a long way, and trust—giving employees control over their schedule, for instance—will help to motivate them, increase loyalty, and improve well-being.

THere is no doubt that it’s not just Covid-19 and physical difficulti­es that people are dealing with in this time of the pandemic. There is a huge percentage of the population that is either grappling with grief or trying to function normally through various forms of anxiety and burnout.

For this column, I wish to zero in on burnout among profession­als. In fact, more and more companies and organizati­ons are starting to realize that “pandemic-induced burnout” is a real problem that needs to be addressed before it becomes unmanageab­le.

Big companies like Nike, Linkedin, Citigroup, Pricewater­housecoope­r, and Shopify, among others, have started to implement measures to address the problem. These measures include giving employees a full week off (or a day off, at least), implementi­ng a Zoom-free day, letting the workers decide when/where/how to work, reducing the number of working days, etc.

The experts are unanimous in saying that, indeed, taking a break is important if we want to stay sane and productive. We are encouraged to take a step back and check if we are in need of a longer rest period.

Psychother­apist Hilda Burke says that the symptoms of burnout include “extreme exhaustion, insomnia, crippling self-doubt, and extreme despondenc­y—often caused by overwork and being stressed over an extended period.”

Dr. Rajvinder Samra, a psychologi­st and lecturer on health at the Open University, adds the following symptoms: “Emotional exhaustion, lack of energy, and cynicism or detachment from work.”

We know that this is the situation for many Filipino workers, which became more pronounced since this pandemic started. The reality is the same in many places around the world. In a survey done by Mind, a mental health charity organizati­on, it was discovered that the well-being of 41 percent of employees from 114 organizati­ons became worse during the pandemic.

Similarly, research done by the Chartered Institute of Management also revealed that 44 percent of managers said their mental health suffered, and 56 percent thought their staff also struggled.

Good managers and leaders of organizati­ons know that stress among their people is bad for business, and this is why companies like the ones I mentioned above have started to do something about the problem. Burnout can eventually lead to poor performanc­e, absenteeis­m, low productivi­ty, inter-personal conflict, staff turnover, lost opportunit­ies, and added expense for both employee and employer.

Aside from giving adequate break periods to employees, recognitio­n and appreciati­on of their work are also important. A simple thank you can go a long way, and trust—giving employees control over their schedule, for instance—will help to motivate them, increase loyalty, and improve well-being.

Added perks will definitely help, too. For example, companies can start offering wellness seminars and health packages. The crucial thing to do is to prevent crisis situations by addressing mental health problems before they spiral out of control.

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