6 Ways Companies Can Help Their Employees Overcome Burnout In A Distributed World
Burnout is more than a bad day or a busy week—it’s about ongoing, compounding factors that make your work environment so draining that no amount of positive thinking or good nights’ sleep can pull you out of it.
The impacts of burnout are serious, even from a purely financial perspective. According to an influential WHO study, burnout costs us a staggering one trillion dollars in lost productivity every single year. It’s also a major driver of employee turnover; in one survey of senior HR leaders, nearly half shared that burnout was responsible for 20-50% of their annual resignations.
Reasonable expectations are key to creating a sustainable remote-work culture that brings out the best in everyone, and that starts with clarity.
Leaders should draft policies that get rid of all ambiguity around how, when, and where employees are expected to work. That’s how you avoid worker confusion and anxiety, or worse, the ‘always on' culture that’s a recipe for burnout.
Employees aren’t machines—they’re real people who have lives, loved ones, and personal responsibilities. That’s why to beat burnout, distributed teams should be led by compassionate, human-centric policies that support employee health and happiness.
That could include programs to help working parents manage childcare, or regular check-ins to assess employee satisfaction and workload. These kinds of steps will both reduce employee stress, and help managers proactively stay aware of their teams' needs.
Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean your job is flexible. Rigid, overly-controlling policies, such as monitoring employees’ computer activity during office hours, make it harder for people to manage their own needs, taking away autonomy and contributing to workplace stress.
While some level of time synchronization is necessary, if leaders can keep an open mind towards what tasks can be completed asynchronously, they’ll find that a little flexibility goes a long way towards creating an agile, responsible remote team that enables everyone to function at their absolute best.
Make video meetings work for you. Rather than feeling tiring, redundant or draining, video should make communication faster, easier, and more fulfilling.
While flexibility is great, it’s crucial that distributed teams don’t feel they’re expected to work all the time. Managers should set defined office hours and stick to them—that means not pinging people after (for example) 5pm unless it’s a true, genuine emergency.
If workers see their manager turning off Slack notifications and not replying to email outside of work hours, they’ll understand that on your team, work-life balance is more than just a buzzword.
Boundaries are about more than just work hours. You may have less control over your distributed team’s work environment, but there are still ways to help them create a healthy separation between their work and home spaces.
These don’t need to be complicated or demanding. Even something as simple as sharing the day’s high and low points on Slack, then signing off together, can really help people mentally clock out.
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