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Coping with burnout amongst staff

Managers do not address all of the stressors that workers face in and out of the office.

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7, 2021

4 min read

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Even before COVID-19, burnout was a thing.

The World Health Organization officially classified it as a professional phenomenon in 2019. Experts estimate the state costs businesses between $ 125 billion and $ 190 billion each year.

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Eric Garten claimed that burnout was a problem for a company, not an employee. This is absolutely correct in that work is always stressful, but companies need to create the right physical conditions to minimize extreme anxiety and overwork. While some of us are more prone to deal with stress better than others, it is not necessarily the workers' fault when they experience problems.

However, burnout is not necessarily just a result of stress. This is often the result of many compound stressors: juggling new relationships or dealing with old, crumbling relationships, taking care of children, trying to keep finances in order, dealing with existing health concerns, etc.

Thanks to the pandemic, there's a whole new bunch of new stressors to the usual list: making sure the kids stay calm while working, zooms, or just trying to find space to decompress, being political chaos, parents and teachers … and the Hits just keep coming.

Related: Finding the Good in Bad Times (AKA 2020)

A nation of unwell-working workers

Not surprisingly, the number of people suffering from depression tripled during the pandemic. Studies led by Jiaqi Xiong also show that the virus crisis in the broader sense is "associated with a very high level of psychological stress, which in many cases would reach the threshold of clinical relevance".

Even under normal circumstances, approaching burnout as a product just doesn't give the work environment a clear picture of why someone is overwhelmed. To ensure good support, you have to get a full picture of what is happening in someone's life. Only when we look at all of the factors someone is dealing with is it possible to create a truly effective health and mental wellness management plan that uses the best resources.

Related: How To Protect Your Mental Health During The Pandemic

Burnout doesn't end with the vaccines.

Employers, workers and the general public also need to acknowledge that many of the effects of COVID-19 are unlikely to go away overnight, even if people return to the traditional office. Although some economists are hoping for a faster economic recovery, others do not predict a return to “normal” conditions until early 2024. New systems and operating methods emerging as a direct result of the pandemic could be beneficial, but it will take some time for this recovery to get used to all of the massive changes in how people think and act. Of course, there is no timetable for grieving lost loved ones. Finally, the World Health Organization claims that the pandemic disrupted critical mental health services in 93 percent of countries around the world. The long-term effects of a lack of good, consistent mental health care (e.g., worsening drug problems) could last for decades.

Burnout is likely to be an even bigger business than it will be in the future. Combating this requires extensive collaboration across a variety of systems and in some cases a complete reorganization of those systems. Maintaining the big picture of what people are dealing with and how everything is connected, rather than pointing the finger at a single factor, provides the best direction to move forward in the interests of the individual and the collective.

Related: 5 Ways Leaders Can Reduce Stress and Start Over For Change

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