By John Maniscalco, Vice President Customer Success, Mainstay
Employee Burnout is Real
Between increased work demand and short-staffed teams, employee burnout isn’t something employers can ignore anymore. The reality is that employee burnout is getting worse. According to an Indeed study, 2/3 of all workers believe burnout has worsened during the pandemic and 52% of survey respondents reported experiencing burnout within the last year. The same study revealed that even before COVID, 43% of workers said they experienced burnout. Though the numbers vary slightly among different generations, the data doesn’t lie: workers are exhausted and employers can’t afford to ignore these issues anymore.
Now that remote work is changing the corporate (and non-corporate) landscape, employers are struggling to balance work and life choices; specifically deciding where and how employees will work. Making these decisions, however, can be tricky. Not everyone has the same preferences and deciding what’s best for your company isn’t always obvious. On top of this, you run the risk of increasing employee burnout. In the same study above, Indeed found that those who work virtually are more likely to say burnout has worsened over the course of the pandemic (38%) than those working on site (28%). Burnout comes from a lot of different places, but the study cited difficulty paying bills and lack of free time as the top contributors.
Finding Work Life Balance
It’s true, more people are feeling inundated by work. Finding work-life balance pre and post pandemic has been a struggle; and statistically speaking, more challenging for remote and work-from-home employees. In fact, 53% of virtual or WFH employees say they are working more hours now than they were in the office. Ergonomic Trends found that 70% of professionals who transitioned to remote work due to COVID-19 say they now work on the weekends. While remote or work-from-home options can seem more desirable to workers – especially when it comes to time with family – it can also make unplugging from work near impossible. Little things like work notifications on personal phones, laptop, or tablets when “off the clock” can make it hard for employees to feel fully removed from work responsibilities. In other words, employees simply don’t feel there’s a boundary between work life and home life. Because of this, 60% of Americans say they have a poor work-life balance.
There’s no question the pandemic has exacerbated these issues. However, with more attention being drawn to workplace challenges, there’s a better opportunity for employers to highlight and address the places they can do better to improve working conditions and meet the needs of their employees. For example, Forrester Research adopted what they call “Anywhere Work,” as an initiative to “practice what they preach.” Meaning, employees are no longer required to show up on a certain number of days each week. Based on their work needs, employees get to decide when they go in. George Colony, chief executive at Forrester Research said, “Our feeling was, we can’t compete for talent if we’re going to be requiring a certain number of days in the office. Why would we require certain days in the office, given that our productivity has been quite high? Our performance has been excellent this year.”
Determining What’s Best for Your Company
The point is, decisions like these – i.e., cultural changes – are decisions that should be made in the best interest of your company, and most importantly, your employees. Because not every business functions the same way, determining what changes to make to your work model requires talking about what’s best with your team. Not assuming a “one size fits all.”
It’s also important to note that these needs are ever changing. Even if you find what works best now, that doesn’t always mean it’ll be as effective months, or even years down the road. But first, you have to find the right balance.
In the coming weeks, stay tuned for our “What keeps you up at night?” blog series, where we will share ideas and solutions for ensuring that your organization is set up to succeed regardless of which work model you follow. Look for ideas and examples of best practices for change management and communication that can be applied across organizations of any size. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.