Fix the Problem of Employee Burnout for your Remote Workers

Human Resource (HR)


30 September 2021

Fix the Problem of Employee Burnout for your Remote Workers

Highlight: Employee burnout has been a major issue and has elevated during the pandemic. Here is how employers can fix the problem of employee burnout.

Employee burnout or job burnout is a psychological process. One that happens due to prolonged stress or excessive workload. Unsurprisingly, it leads to physical and emotional exhaustion. 

Employers need to look out for the burnout signs for obvious reasons – it impacts work productivity, and isn’t it the responsibility of an employer to create a positive work environment to avoid burnout in the first place? Since the pandemic, firms all over the world have adopted work from home culture. How then, can employers recognise employee burnout remotely? 

Well, remote workers do display these burnout symptoms, provided you’re looking:

  • Lack of motivation and enthusiasm when a task is assigned.
  • They show decreased productivity and lack of concentration during work hours.
  • Inability to make work-related decisions when needed.
  • Irritable and more sensitive to feedback given by managers.
  • Decreased energy during meetings or discussions.
  • Their output goes down, and they perform less compared to their performance early in the pandemic or when on-site. 

Job burnout has been pervasive in the market for a long time, and it has spiked since the pandemic. According to Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index, which surveyed over 6,000 data across eight countries globally, India had the second-highest percentage of workers facing increased burnout in Asia. Almost 70% of remote employees in India suffered burnout symptoms, a recent Monster.com survey found.

Limeade, a software company that surveyed its employees before the pandemic, found that 42% of workers were burned out. When they asked employees about burnout again, a few months after the pandemic, the number had shot up to 72%. 

What contributes to remote workers’ burnout? 

Unmanageable Workload

When an employee has excessive workload and limited time to complete tasks, stress and anxiety follow. Remote workers often take up loads of work, and some may even procrastinate and work ungodly hours. This deteriorates their mental and physical health leading to job burnout.

Lack of recognition and unfair treatment 

Employees of all fields expect primarily two things from their firm – recognition and fair treatment. For all the efforts they put in to complete their work, it is only fair to appreciate and recognise them. Since all the work is done remotely, managers ignore acknowledging their employee’s work efforts. 

Mismatched work skills and knowledge 

There have been too many remote job vacancies since the pandemic, and graduates apply for these vacancies irrespective of their educational compatibility. When the actual task is given, they feel too stressed and irritated since they don’t possess the skill set for that concerned job.  

Workplace buddy time is put on hold.

Employees have a social circle at their workplace, and this helps them relieve personal stress and work stress too. Due to work from home culture, they don’t find the time to converse with their colleagues, and their workplace buddies are put on hold. 

Lack of work-life balance 

Well, not being able to balance work and life remains an important factor for job burnout. Without time off from work, a person becomes exhausted, bored, depressed, and burnt out. Everybody needs some quality time with their family or friends or even alone time. Even though it is remote work culture, most workers never leave their room until nighttime. They keep themselves busy in finishing the work and ignore work-life balance. 

Employers must find a way to eliminate or mitigate burnout to maintain a healthy workspace for the employees, even if it’s WFH. So, it is necessary first to identify burnout signs and then incorporate some tactics to help overcome these issues. 

These tactics might help employers/managers/HRs eliminate employee burnout: 

1. Providing time off from work can help to have a work-life balance. From a poll conducted by OnePoll,

  • 67% of those working remotely feel pressured to be available at all hours of the day
  • 65% admitting to working longer hours than ever before.
  • Six in 10 respondents fear that their job would be at risk if they didn’t go above and beyond working overtime.
  • 63% agree that time off is generally discouraged by their employer.

Employers have to make sure their workers develop actual barriers between their work and personal life and have a dedicated workspace to join and leave work. Employees look to their managers for hints about what’s expected in terms of work hours. 

If you are constantly available, then your employees will believe they need to be as well. Model a clear work-life balance and encourage your remote team to do the same.

2. Many workplace cultures provide options for taking a vacation and other time away from work responsibilities. This is a productive approach since studies have shown that taking time off to rejuvenate helps boost worker productivity over the long term. Also, remember that if managers/employers don’t take a vacation, employees may not feel comfortable taking vacation either.

3. When you notice an employee is not his usual self and something might be wrong with them as a change of attitude or performance, you can address them and discuss it. Once they open up with you, you can help them in solving the problem in all possible ways you can. By doing so, you will see a decrease in burnout rates in your organization, and your employees will be more motivated. 

4. Give employees the chance to connect with coworkers or colleagues and avoid work-related conversations. This allows employees to get to know each other well and provides some relaxation time.

5. Suggest that teams ‘sign off’ from email and turn off work notifications after regular work hours. This helps employees to get back to their personal lives, and work-life conflict is addressed. Because when workers get notified about a new task or any updates in the task after work hours, they tend to complete it and spend working overtime.

6. Workforce management system helped ensure employee safety, wellbeing, and work/life balance during the pandemic. These extra programs and benefits, in addition to the workforce management system, show workers that they are valued and cared for during this time. For instance, fatigue management systems track- hours worked, tasks performed, breaks taken, and time off scheduled to flag employees that may be at risk of becoming exhausted and burned out.

Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO at MHA, stated “Company leadership–including executives, HR, and management–have a responsibility to their employees to model and talk openly about behaviors that reduce stress, prevent burnout, and help employees establish the appropriate boundaries when working remotely.” 

Source 

Remote work is believed to remain a norm both during and after pandemics. Employers increasingly have the responsibility to assure their employees’ well-being and take proactive steps to make operational changes. By paying attention to those workers most vulnerable to pandemic fatigue and burnout, managers/employers can build better organizations for their employees. 

So next time when employees do take time off, approve it to be completely uninterrupted. If someone is on vacation, avoid reaching out to them with work-related tasks. These measures will allow them to come back more refreshed and productive, which will lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction and better business outcomes. 

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