(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos has introduced employee contact-tracing capabilities for their customers at no additional charge. Check out their COVID-19 Resource Center for details. Enjoy the article!)
One of my Facebook friends recently pondered the question, “I don’t think we fully know how much this pandemic is going to change our way of life.” It’s so true. And it’s a good reminder that we don’t know everything that people are dealing with right now. For example, employees are facing huge demands trying to juggle work, home, and in some cases, childcare.
In a recent survey from The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, 72% of U.S. employees with children under 18 are anxious about balancing the demands of their job with childcare – including school re-openings, remote learning, and daycare capacity. The survey also found that employees without children may need more encouragement to take time-off to mentally and physically rest and recharge. Only a third (37%) have done so since the start of COVID-19, potentially putting them at risk of burning out.
We can’t ignore the fact that organizations have been dealing with employee stress and burnout for years. COVID-19 is adding a new dimension to an existing challenge. Here are a few articles about workplace stress and burnout from The Workforce Institute blog. I like that they not only talk about the causes but offer some solutions for organizations to consider.
In a joint study with Future Workplace, 95% of HR leaders said that employee burnout is sabotaging their workforce. The study also indicated that nearly half of those surveyed attribute up to 50% of their employee turnover to employee burnout.
Kevin Mulcahy, a partner at Future Workplace, says proactively tackling employee burnout will have a big impact on improving retention, and that should be a top priority for organizations. “As the economy continues to improve, the battle for talent will continue to heat up, requiring organizations to provide more compensation, expanded benefits, and a richer employee experience. Managers should pay close attention to make sure employees aren’t overworked while also promoting flexibility wherever possible.”
In the last 15 years, knowledge working has changed enormously. Thanks to cheaper technology along with the ubiquity of wireless networks and social media, we are ‘always on’, that is, we exist in a state of being constantly connected, available and digitally present. In some ways this is wonderful. From the point of view of the employee, we can flex our time by starting work early or finishing late. But in other ways, ‘always-on’ can be a con: we work longer hours, feel the need to reply to messages and voicemails as soon as possible, and we suffer from FOMO: the fear of missing out.
The same conundrum applies to employers. We urgently need to consider how we get the best out of people, but we have to make sure that we treat them sympathetically and not as assets to be sweated. We need to think about time as a precious commodity and the ways in which we all use it. And finally, we need to think about technology as a resource that we consume with full respect for employees.
According to the recent Kronos “Meet Gen Z survey”, 34% of Gen Zers communicated anxiety as an emotional barrier that they must overcome to achieve workplace success, along with lack of motivation/drive (20%), and low self-esteem (17%). Dennis Miller, vice president of human resources at The Claremont Colleges suggests that in light of COVID-19, this group may not fully understand that we will get through this crisis, even though no one can say for sure when, or how.
As leaders and managers, it is essential to pay special attention to the emotional and mental health impact this pandemic has had on our employees, at all levels of the organization, and remember that no one is immune to the impact of this crisis. Today, the leadership mission is focusing on the emotional and mental welfare of your people more than anything else.
Trends such as digitalization, automatization, and the proliferation of technology require increasingly qualified workers. Companies need to understand that their human capital is their most important investment: from employee attraction, to recruiting, retention and development.
Figures regarding millennials’ mental health indicate that more and more young professionals are in danger of suffering from emotional exhaustion. The main causes for this exhaustion are the growing convergence of work and leisure time, and the misuse of modern technologies. Organizations need to understand the specific needs of millennials in the workplace and design a sustainable corporate health care plan with an increasing emphasis on mental health.
Self-care is any activity we deliberately do in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. In theory, when we say that we ‘take care of ourselves’, we’re practicing self-care. The challenge with self-care is identifying the best ways to care for ourselves.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “What does this have to do with employees?” The answer is … a lot. It’s hard for employees to be engaged if they’re not healthy. It’s difficult for employees to be productive if they’re not healthy. Disengaged and unproductive employees hurt the bottom-line. Even if the company doesn’t have a formal wellness or well-being program, it makes sense for employers to support the idea of self-care. This article offers a few things companies can do to support employee self-care without spending extra money or creating a special program.
I don’t have to explain to anyone that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Employees are experiencing burnout and stress. Managers are experiencing stress. HR leaders are stressed too. Organizations need to encourage and support the development of programs that are going to help employees manage the stressors. They need to encourage conversations and feedback so little annoyances don’t become huge obstacles. And they need to make sure that technology is used for the right reasons and doesn’t become something employees want to avoid.
It’s a tall list for sure. But even when COVID-19 is past us, these issues will remain. Don’t push them off. They’re a part of what it takes to be successful.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at KronosWorks.11