Staff burnout can be difficult to manage and prevent at the best of times. When times are hard and our ‘normal’ is forced to change due to extenuating circumstances, the chances of burnout rapidly increase. Staff experiencing burnout will be unable to complete their duties to their fullest potential and burnout can lead to other ailments such as depression, anxiety, back pain and migraines. It is important to do everything we can to prevent staff burnout.
Ensure that there is a ‘work from home’ health and safety policy.
Implement and send out a working from home specific health and safety policy. This should remind staff about the importance of taking breaks for meals, not working at strange times (i.e. 2am), and ensuring they have a separate space for working such as a particular desk etc, so they can leave their work when they go on a break or ‘switch off’ for the evening.
Be practical about deadlines.
If you have staff working from home with children, or older family members who need care, it is important to add a few days to the deadline. Children and elders do not understand the need for personal space to do work, and those that do often choose to ignore it. This can add a lot of stress for parents with small children. Even if they employ a nanny or other care, they must be given more time as they will need to deal with problems that arise and give their family some attention. Working from home is different to working in an office.
Ensure that any work specific software or hardware is provided.
One of the biggest stresses to those being made to work from home is when they must source software and hardware, that would usually be available at the office, to compete their job to their best ability. This puts unfair duress on staff, and it is your responsibility to ensure they have what they need to complete their job.
Check in on your staff regularly.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to check in on your staff regularly. A one-on-one phone call or zoom call is best for this as you can pick up on non-verbal cues your staff may be sending. Staff will feel most isolated when working away from their co-workers and this can lead to them struggling to complete tasks as they are unattached. It is important to ensure that everyone remembers that they are part of a team!
These are unprecedented times that we have not seen in our lifetimes. There is no right or wrong way of approaching our new normal but we do need to ensure that our staff are doing okay. Managers and team leaders still have an obligation of care with their staff and must take any issues put forward seriously. It is important to approach conflict with care and we must make sure that our staff know that any concerns, especially about their health, will be taken seriously.