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Stress, Anxiety, and Pandemic Burnout

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

For the last two years, both employer and employee have been trying to find a balance between work and home life. For many companies, after spending over a year navigating through shut downs and mandates, many still struggle to find a way to maintain a positive culture and minimize employee burnout. As defined by the World Health Organization burn out is the feeling of exhaustion and reduced effectiveness resulting from chronic work place stress (WSJ). Clearly, every job has their inherit stressors. Some jobs more than others. Yet, for the most part, we were able to navigate, manage, and compartmentalize our stressors just enough to maintain and carry on with work. This of course being pre-COVID. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, well, things just haven't been the same. Namely, the increase of stress, anxiety and burnout experienced from both employee and employer brought on by the pandemic.

When the pandemic hit and the first shut down mandate was issued, every business knew, rapid changes would have to occur if they they wanted to keep employees working and their doors open. Unfortunately, companies have become so fixated on getting their employees to work (through schedule and work procedure modification) they got totally blindsided by the amount of stress, anxiety and burnout their employees were actually feeling. Obviously not through ill intentions, employers had no way of knowing how to mitigate the onslaught of troubles a pandemic would bring on. After all, America had not experienced a pandemic of this magnitude since the 1918 Influenza pandemic, over hundred years ago. With constant changes from federal through local mandates, companies are having a hard enough time trying to ensure they remain compliant with the law while trying to figure out how to slow down the amount of burnout and turnover they are experiencing. In fact, in the last ten months, over 39 million resignations were handed in nation wide (WSJ).

To try to keep their employees happy and from jumping ship, businesses looked for ways to try to improve their employees work and home life balance. From allowing flexible work days and hours to shorter work weeks and hybrid work schedules to working from home full time, businesses are still experiencing a high rate of burnout and turnover (Gallup). In fact, a recent Gallup workplace-management research has found employees are experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety and burnout; not because of the longer work hours but factors such as unmanageable workloads, unclear communication and lack of manager support. All of which, undoubtedly are effected by the high turnover rate. The question remains how do we, as business leaders, create a work environment that, at the very least, minimizes the level of stress, anxiety and burnout as we continue to find our way out of this COVID nightmare.

One of the latest trends gaining traction with businesses has been incorporating an "all-company" holiday, which allows every employee in the company an opportunity to recharge without actually using any personal time off (PTO). Though it does sound like a great idea, it may not be the best solution for every business. The fact is, there is no one set template that every businesses can follow. Obviously, each business is different so each approach will be different.

However, there is a universal approach each business can take to help curve the level of stress, anxiety and burnout their teams are feeling. By addressing the issues of unmanageable workloads, unclear communication and lack of manager support at the source. Yes, with out a doubt limited man power and lack of resources are a definite factor in employee burnout; but they’re not the only ones. When we look at the forementioned issues, many have stemmed from prolonged periods of neglect. The pandemic just brought them to light.

It's a given, prolonged complications in any business can and will definitely hurt the existing work culture. Therefore, inevitably causing an overwhelming felling of stress, anxiety and burnout. When a business's work culture begins taking a downward trend, things such as communication and leadership competency has long been experiencing complications. iLEAD's approach to addressing these issues are very simple and effective. You want your team to live out your vision and mission? Immerse them with real value added training that not only ignites professional growth but also personal growth. This lets every member in your team know you truly want them to grow and succeed beyond the company doors. Teach your team how to truly connect with one another to help ensure communication is never a one way conversation. Give you managers the necessary training and tools they need to support their team.

Again, iLEAD recognizes there are a multitude of factors, especially now, that create extraordinarily high levels of stress, anxiety and burnout. And the truth remains, each business will have to figure out what works best for them as they press on working through COVID. Until then, as companies update their crisis/emergency response manual, addressing the problem at the source is the only viable option. The sooner companies begin addressing the communication, workload and support issues, that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, the sooner they can and will get past the overwhelming feeling of stress, anxiety and burnout.

iLEAD's leadership developmental training not only helps bridge the communication gap between your leaders and their team, it also helps forge a culture of unity in a shared mission and vision for the company. Give your team the training that will enable them to grow professionally and personally. Give them the opportunity to see how much you value them as a member of your team. So, when the next crisis emerges, your team will be stepping into it with a unified and confident front, knowing you have their backs and their best interest in mind every step of the way.



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