Employee burnout is becoming a real threat

I am so tired.

Like, really tired.

Exhausted even.

And it’s not just me.

Everyone I speak to who now who has worked all the way through lockdown without a break is tired.

Some of us are reaching the point of no return. The pace of life since 23 March 2020 for those of us who have worked all the way through has been immense. From our point of view it has been great to be needed by our clients, but the pace has been relentless. And there is no let-up in sight. As employers therefore we need to make sure we take care of those who have worked all the way through without a break. We are responsible for their well-being at work.

Most importantly, those who have worked all the way through lockdown and beyond need a break. I have mine towards the end of September but I am the last in my organisation to take a break. It can’t come soon enough for me.

As an employer, what are you doing to make sure that you are looking after your staff, at whatever level, who have worked for five months without a break?

I can only speak from my own experience, but the impact of the relentless nature of work on my mental wellbeing over the last five months has been immense. There has been no time for chit chat; my tolerance levels have gone through the floor and there are times when I literally haven’t been able to think straight. The learning curve that we have been on as HR practitioners has been immense, and enjoyable, but you can’t operate at that pace continually. We are only human after all. As I have mentioned in a different blog, the working environment has changed, with people making unreasonable demands and not having any appreciation of the work that is done on their behalf. That has been hard to take when we have been working flat out to make sure that everyone gets what they need.

I can’t leave my clients in the lurch when they need me, but there have been some weeks when I have hit a brick wall by Thursday, both mentally and physically. One Friday, as the phones were quiet and we are all now working from home, I snuck off to bed for a nap before lunch. I was out cold for 45 minutes. I keep hoping that things will calm down and we will return to normal, but so far the pace of work has not reduced and it shows no signs of slowing down.

That is why it is so important for all employers to look after their staff who have worked all the way through. The majority of them will be feeling just like me – tired, worn down and under pressure. Mental well-being needs to be considered now more than ever before and some reward for those who have worked all the way through does need to be considered.

Some of our clients are giving extra holiday to people who have worked all the way through, in recognition of the extra workload they have absorbed, especially as some staff are still furloughed and colleagues are still carrying that extra responsibility. Some people have worked from home and some have gone into the workplace all the way through and it is taking its toll. Those people need some time to regroup and recharge their batteries; soon, before they fall over.

Some people have taken a pay-cut to help their business out and have still worked all the way through. They deserve a huge thank you for making such a commitment. Now might not be the time to make a financial adjustment but extra time off doesn’t cost anything. You lose a bit of productivity but most people are grateful for extra holiday.

Some of our clients are recognising people’s efforts in other ways, such as bonuses, which is great and I know those gestures have really been appreciated. While that shows appreciation it doesn’t help those who are exhausted to feel better. If you haven’t done so already, I would urge all employers to make sure everyone in your organisation who has worked all the way through has a proper holiday, soon, to avoid employee burnout.