COVID-19 changed many employees’ work routines both in positive and negative ways.
As a result of long-term remote working, many companies are considering introducing hybrid working models, giving staff the option of combining working from home with going into the office. However, hybrid working could also have a significant impact on employee mental health with many reporting symptoms of ‘hybrid burnout’.
Burnout is defined as a phenomenon ‘resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’ In 2020 it became a recognized condition by the WHO.
Hybrid burnout is the result of juggling long hours working from home with commutes to offices, which can not only be physically exhausting but also take a considerable toll on employee stress levels.
But what can businesses do to help employees manage the physical and mental health implications of a hybrid working environment?
1. Recognize the signs
Individuals in management should become aware of the signs and symptoms caused by hybrid burnout, as well as what they can do to prevent or respond to it. Staff may become fatigued, forgetful, and struggle to concentrate, with so much going on around them. Early on, this may make people feel worried, irritable, on edge, or tense. Further down the line, this anxiety – caused by juggling multiple work environments- may become so severe that it affects professionals’ ability to work productively (or at all).
2. Assess company culture
A Gallup study revealed the main causes of burnout are not the nature of the work itself, rather, how a person is treated and managed while they are working. Help employees understand their value to the company and their contributions to the organization’s goals. Employees feel more valued, and display more motivation in the workplace if, and when, they understand their exact role in the greater purpose. Take a few minutes each week to update employees on company news and how your team’s actions are contributing to the company’s overall success.
3. Encourage conversations
Employees need to feel conversations about difficulties surrounding work are both welcomed and expected. This requires employers to feel empowered to enable better conversations about mental health in the workplace. Initiatives like this build an open community, encouraging more people to say “I’m not OK” and ask others “Are you OK?”.
4. Communicate set policies
With hybrid working, you need to be using multiple channels to ensure you reach all employees whether it’s through company social media platforms, emails, or even by text alerts. Actively nurturing and promoting reasonable work hours, including, if necessary, encouraging employees to go home, when in the office late, or messaging them to ‘go offline’, at the end of their regular workday if you recognize a pattern of unhealthy overworking. Help assess workloads for those who feel pressured to remain working beyond normal business hours and let them know there is always support available and additional resources to help them manage mounting projects or multiple deadlines. Sometimes employees simply don’t realize these are things they are welcome to ask for.
5. Provide professional emotional wellbeing support
For those having difficulty with the balance between remote and office life, consider introducing professional wellbeing support like Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and timely access to effective psychological therapy (such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy). These interventions can be delivered remotely or face to face and give individuals access to a specialist who can help them understand how break unhelpful thinking patterns that may exacerbate stress or burnout in uncertain times.