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How the right kind of employee engagement can prevent burnout

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Burnout has greatly exacerbated since the pandemic. Here’s what corporations can do to meaningfully support their employees to ensure a happy and rewarding work environment.
employee engagement can pre empt burnout

In the first blog in this series, I discussed the need for corporates to evolve their mental health initiatives in response to the challenges that the pandemic posed. In this blog, I’d like to focus on burnout.

Burnout in the corporate world has been well documented. The pandemic, of course, has worsened the situation by further disrupting the work-life balance – as people have tried to cope with an ‘always on’ work environment, loss of motivation, healthcare worries for self and family, and more. The World Health Organization has called it pandemic fatigue. The ensuing Great Resignation movement represents the tipping point, where people are saying enough is enough, as they re-evaluate their personal and professional priorities.

We shouldn’t be surprised – the average person spends over a third of their lives at work, and working in an unhappy, unsatisfactory, or unrewarding environment is unsustainable.

If companies are to attract and retain the best talent, clearly they need to do more to support their employees. The Firstup global survey of 23,105 respondents finds that 17% of employees believe that their employer does not support their mental health. Also, some employees describe their place of work as uncomfortable, unfamiliar, or unfriendly, and others feel that they don’t belong in their work environment – potentially adding to their mental health woes.

25% of survey respondents want designated mental health days

Practical approaches that organizations can take

Understand what employees do each day

Senior management needs to have an in-depth understanding of what their employee’s job roles are, and what exactly they do each day. Only then can they assign realistic workloads that are indeed accomplishable in a 40-hour week – and intervene in a timely manner if staff is overwhelmed or overloaded with tasks. 

Furthermore, obvious as it may sound, priorities are best set by discussing project deliverables in consultation with the employees on the team. Such conversations are crucial to avoiding misunderstandings. Oftentimes, what employees consider essential may be thought of as ‘nice to haves’ and not business-critical by managers. 

Time off MEANS time off!

Companies need to respect their employees’ personal and professional boundaries. For instance, in the study, 20% of respondents state that internal emails should not be sent after working hours and almost 25% of respondents want designated mental health days. These measures need to be enforced to the letter, but more importantly in the spirit that they are created. 

20% of those surveyed state that internal emails should not be sent after working hours

During the pandemic, many companies enforced shutdowns for varying lengths of time – from a day to a whole week – to allow employees to truly disconnect from emails and work. Similarly, some companies have started offering vacation bonuses when employees disconnect, and in other organizations, HR actively works with IT to completely turn off technology or notifications during non-work hours or vacation days. 

Fundamentally, what all this means is that companies need to make positive employee experience a top priority. And in today’s digital world, adopting appropriate technology offers the best chance of making this business priority a success by enabling an employee experience that is personalized for the needs of individuals – which then cumulatively leads to productivity that contributes to business growth. 

In the next and final blog in this series, I’ll explain the value of good communication for employee wellness. Stay tuned!

Achieve your HR goals by creating compelling communications and improving employee engagement. Download our “New insights for HR” guide today!

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Brittany Barhite

Brittany Barhite

Dr. Brittany Barhite is the Communication and Employee Experience Director at Firstup. She has more than 16 years of experience in employee, leadership and external communications. Prior to Firstup, Brittany handled internal communications for a Fortune 500 company, overseeing employee and executive communications. Her experience and education provide a fresh internal communications approach that is focused on creative storytelling and transforming the employee digital experience.

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