Isolating burnout to preserve culture and impact

It’s hard to believe we are halfway through 2021. With much of the pandemic behind us here in the U.S., many of us are shifting back into offices, in-person meetings and familiar expectations.

Bouncing back should be filled with excitement, but the fatigue and even burnout among many of our co-workers, friends and partners are evident. Most major business publications have one or several stories addressing the corporate impact of post-pandemic burnout among employees returning to the office. With masks tucked away, the next big endeavor for leaders is isolating fatigue and negativity from impacting employee engagement, team momentum and business alignment.

Here are a few areas of focus based on conversations I am having with leaders, entrepreneurs and executives, many of whom have already noticed a shift as people begin returning to their offices.

  • Be realistic. I have heard leaders say that their teams have not missed a beat while working remotely, but the reality is, many employees are tired and overworked. This is not surprising, as schedules at home and work have shifted to accommodate all of the modifications.
  • Be inquisitive. The change in schedules are not likely to impact all your employees, but you do have to plan to understand who it may have affected, sooner rather than later. You do not want to openly invite this negative energy into your organization’s dynamics, project plans and customer interactions.
  • Take the lead. This may seem time-consuming, or even out of scope, but assuming it is business as usual is likely to impact your deadlines, projects and culture. Remember that impactful leaders make the time to remove obstacles, understand mindsets and empower people within their roles.
  • Make the investment. You do not have to roll out the couch, but defining a few well-thought-out activities, questions and conversations to gather essential data points could save you recruiting dollars and time later. Frankly, there are not enough people to hire, so it is essential to invest in the people already on your payroll.
  • Work from the inside out. Creating opportunities to identify indicators could be time well spent. For example, some companies are adding psychologists, energy practices, organizational consultants and even therapists to foster an employee-first approach through their actions. Some are even implementing half days on Fridays, games and other team-based sports throughout the day to invest in culture.

Taking on all these suggestions may not be possible within your organization’s budget, headcount, or timelines. Still, I suggest you pick one or two to ensure you preserve what you had before the pandemic and be aware of what your employees need now. I think many of us want to move forward and get back to what we have known, but things are different now, and organizations and leaders are going to have to shift, as well.

Like anything, there is no magic bullet, but getting ahead of negative energies that can quickly impact your culture and your business goals is a worthy investment. Prioritizing the right activities now can lead to a prospering culture for years to come.

JJ DiGeronimo is president of Tech Savvy Women