Managers may have been mistaken that everything will be fine now that more people have been immunized. Consider this: Employers are dealing with a new issue— the “Great Resignation.” Employees are resigning in near-record numbers.
While some blame the departure on people being trapped in their positions during the Great Pandemic and unable to switch companies, several psychiatrists believe exhaustion is to blame. Burnout, defined as lower productivity, cynicism, and exhaustion, is an expected reaction to the trauma and intense stress generated by a global epidemic that dragged on for more than a year.
“Burnout occurs gradually and cumulatively,” explains Mark Goulston, co-author of “Why Cope When You Can Heal?” with Diana Hendel, PharmD. How COVID-19’s Healthcare Heroes Can Recover from PTSD (Harper Horizon.) “Spend a year working long hours under stressful conditions while also attempting to homeschool your children, feeling isolated, grieving all of these losses, and worrying about the safety of your loved ones and yourself, and you will eventually reach a breaking point,” he says. He adds, “it takes time to reflect on and process what you’ve been through.” It’s understandable that many people are only now reaching their breaking point.”
Burned-out people, according to Goulston, are bad for innovation, engagement, productivity, and “all the other characteristics that make a firm hum.”
” Not only that, but workers have had ample opportunity to reconsider what is important to them and examine whether they are living and acting in accordance with their values. “Many have come to the conclusion that life is too short to work for corporations that don’t seem to care about them as people,” he said.
According to the writers, both parties bear responsibility for resolving the burnout issue.
There are five things managers can do to help employees to cope with this post-pandemic trauma.
Fight the stigma fiercely. According to Goulston and Hendel, burnout has a significant impact on people’s mental health. People can become depressed and nervous if they aren’t treated, and they may be more prone to substance abuse and sometimes suicide if they aren’t. That’s why, as part of a comprehensive approach to preventing burnout, make sure staff feel safe enough to come to you when they’re having trouble.
If you have an EAP, make sure everyone knows how to use it. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) help employees with difficulties affecting their health, mental health, and emotional well-being. If your company has an EAP, make sure that everyone is aware of the services it provides and that they can access them in a secure manner. Reiterate that utilizing an EAP is not a sign of weakness. If you don’t already have an EAP, now is the time to get one.
Make mental health a topic of conversation. Don’t just assume that people are aware of your concern about their mental health. They most likely don’t. “I want you to be mentally and emotionally well. If you need, please contact me. I’ll keep my door open and my phone on at all times for you.” Don’t say it just once. Say it again and again.
Meet with employees one-on-one on a regular basis, so you’re more likely to be aware of their personal issues. In any case, this is a wonderful leadership practice since it fosters strong relationships between leaders and employees. It helps you recognize if they’re suffering a loss, their spouse has lost a job, or their child is struggling in school, especially in times like these. The more you know about your employees, the more likely you are to step in when they require assistance, AND the more likely it is they will come to you when they need you.
Be conscious of the messages you convey. (In order to disclose the truth, people must feel psychologically safe.) Allowing individuals to express their emotions and talking about them when they are having a difficult time is critical for leaders. Keep an eye on the signals you’re sending out. Never punish someone for bringing their private troubles to light, whether blatantly or discreetly. Never even hint that this is a sign of “weakness” or that they are looking for an excuse to avoid their responsibilities. And, even if you think you’d never do something like this, remember that stigmatizing others can unconsciously push them away.
“We often stigmatize people because what they are going through is too similar to our own mental and emotional problems,” Goulston says. “It appears that the majority of the world copes with anxiety and sadness by trying to run away from it by remaining busy, rather than recuperating from it. Hearing about someone else’s problems can make it difficult for us to escape our own.”
In times like these, one of your responsibilities is to show that you love your people. I know love is not a word that we often use in the workplace. However, it is an important word for you to feel at times like this and communicate to them.
Since the pandemic began, people have been isolated for a year or more. Emerging from the cocoon, many don’t remember what it is like to interact with others anymore personally. They are feeling enormous pressure to perform as they did before but are also dealing with the pressure of interacting with people again, and their families may be feeling the same pressure in their interactions, then bringing them home with them.
Showing authentic love for you people may take some courage on your part. It will require you to open up to them about some of your own struggles and demonstrate empathy with what they’re going through. It doesn’t mean that you can’t demand results; it does mean that you have to add to your repertoire in order to get them.
As a manager, as a leader, being a human being and not a slave driver will help them to extricate themselves from their turmoil. Your willingness to support them by listening, by referring them to supportive mental health services, and in any other way that you can think of will help them… And you.
Being a leader requires you to be courageous, authentic, in service to others, truthful, loving, and effective. If you want to avoid even more replacements of your staff, take the time with your people now.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2021
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2100 episodes. He also hosts Job Search TV on YouTube, Amazon and Roku, as well as on BingeNetworks.tv for Apple TV and 90+
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