By Taylor Adams, Manager of Workplace Mental Health at Mental Health America
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, many employers have undergone unprecedented change by closing their office doors and requiring most – if not all – employees to work from home. While all employees must adapt to new routines and workplace tools, managers face the additional challenge of maintaining morale and supporting their employees during the transition. With fewer opportunities to interact candidly in-person, it may be especially difficult for managers to tell when an employee is feeling burnt out.
As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Burnout is specific to the workplace, and there are three primary signs of burnout: exhaustion, personal efficacy, and cynicism.
If you are a manager, it is important now more than ever to discuss the signs of burnout and solutions with your employees so they can identify issues when they come up and find ways to help you support them. Here are seven tips to help engage your employees in a conversation about burnout:
- Check-in regularly. If you don’t already, make a habit of checking in regularly. It will help you build a relationship where an employee can feel comfortable about sharing.
- Ask appropriate open-ended questions. If you don’t know where to start, try, “I wanted to check-in. How are you doing?”
- Actively listen with your complete attention to your employee and resist the urge to think about how you should respond next or offer advice.
- Recognize their feelings and express your understanding back to them.
- Offer support. Ask them what they need to help them feel better or encourage them to check out the employer’s resources.
- Be aware of your own stress, feelings, or thoughts that might be a barrier to being supportive. When we’re stressed out, we often can’t give others the attention they need. But attending to the situation for even 5 minutes can make a big difference.
- Understand that mental illnesses are just like physical health problems. They can have flare ups that require attention but having a mental illness doesn’t reflect a person’s character or some unchangeable quality.