HR's role in managing remote work burnout

With the pandemic has come irrevocable changes in the way we work. Learn how to take advantage of improved productivity while reducing remote work burnout.

The Virtual Workplace

With the pandemic have come drastic changes to the way we work. 

Before the pandemic, the average human was commuting back and forth to an office, and doing less than three hours of productive work each day. The remaining five hours were wasted sitting restlessly at their desk, clicking between browsers, doing low-priority tasks and providing status updates in meetings.

Following COVID-19’s impact on the world and the rapid shift to remote work, this daily routine has become irrelevant for many. Employees no longer spend time commuting, waiting in line at lunch, having watercooler chats with their coworkers or facing other distractions of a typical in-person work environment. 

Instead, they prefer a remote work environment for its offered flexibility and agency. At the same time, they feel the change from getting three hours of deep work done each day at the office to working eight (or more) hours from home. 

Employee productivity has skyrocketed, not because workplace environments have become more efficient or enjoyable, but because employee peripherals have been removed. Employees lost the pleasant distractions that broke up their workday and many are working at all hours from home, causing burnout. 

In fact, over half (52%) of US employees from various industries state that they’re experiencing burnout, compared to 43% of those surveyed pre-COVID-19. With an increasingly dissatisfied workforce to reckon with, organizations have turned to HR to solve this problem. 

Today, HR departments have the new responsibility of helping employees transition to a remote or hybrid workplace, with its new technology, communication expectations and work-life blend. HR leaders must now handle all this while recognizing that many employees are struggling personally due to the pandemic. 

Simply put, HR must support employees throughout an unprecedented event in modern history. They need to help employees navigate their way past remote work burnout, or risk losing them to the great resignation

Identifying employee burnout in your organization

For this reason, HR and leadership teams need to speak very openly about mental health, anxiety and burnout; and understand how it’s affecting their employees. 

HR should be taught to look for signs of employee burnout, which, fortunately, is not hard to spot in most cases. It often presents itself in various ways in employees, through symptoms like:

  • Irritability
  • Distraction
  • Depression
  • Underperformance
  • Struggling to complete standard tasks or lead meetings
  • Any other signs of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion

To keep it simple, if an employee is displaying consistent signs of burnout or showing a disinterest in their job and work-life blend, it’s time to think of how HR can help them. 

If you notice this in multiple employees, it may be time to hold a company-wide meeting on employee burnout, teaching employees: 

  • How they can recognize burnout in themselves
  • How they can recognize it in others
  • What they can do to manage it

Although initiatives like this may hold less of a priority in some company cultures, it shouldn't be overlooked. Research has proven that lost productivity caused by burnout is 7.5 times higher than that caused by absent employees.

Solving remote work burnout to improve productivity and retention

If you spot symptoms of burnout in an employee, your first step should be holding a one-on-one with them to quickly check in; learn how they’re coping with their role and workload and if you can help them in any way. You can even open this discussion up to ask about the processes and systems the employee is using, and if they feel like they are supported to complete their remote work with their current tech stack.

Additionally, take time to acknowledge employees who are doing well or genuinely navigating a very stressful work situation. Doing this goes a long way in making them feel recognized, especially under stressful circumstances.

Turn to people analytics to find the source of employee burnout

HR can also turn to people analytics to learn how remote work burnout is affecting employee performance as well as to help identify its source. Solutions like Pattyrn show employee sentiment and engagement levels based on their baseline, so you can see when employees have too much on their plate. 

For instance, you can see when employees are inundated by meetings, low-priority work, or one client after another. View when they’re acting as a consistent blocker in a project type, and see if there are some tasks that they show increased engagement levels in, indicating higher interest in that area. You can even see how they manage time, communicate, share work, store work, and more. It acts as a lifeline for your entire digital organization. 

Want to learn more about how HR leaders can prevent burnout and raise your department’s value? Read this blog to learn more about targeting remote work burnout with Pattyrn’s people analytics. 

Similar posts

Get notified on new future of work insights

Be the first to know about WNDYR’s latest work and productivity insights to drive a successful enterprise digital transformation