Respon­dents to the lat­est State of HR report list burnout as the great­est con­se­quence of the pan­dem­ic. In fact, the Great Res­ig­na­tion lingers, in part, because the burnout has got­ten worse. Now, com­pa­nies are fac­ing infla­tion, the yank­ing of job offers, and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of lay­offs. While they are tight­en­ing their belts and being far more cau­tious, their work­ers remain over­worked and burdened.

So, HR lead­ers are in hot pur­suit of men­tal health and well­ness solu­tions, ways to reach out and show they care. They want to help improve reten­tion and ensure a func­tion­ing, healthy work­force. Know­ing where to begin with a burnout pre­ven­tion plan is challenging.

Access to Help

To start, HR pro­fes­sion­als must con­nect their employ­ees with resources to help them reduce stress, treat diag­nosed men­tal ill­ness, and every­thing in between. This requires due dili­gence. Experts sug­gest that HR lead­ers con­duct sur­veys, ask ques­tions, and lis­ten to employ­ees to learn what they need. Then, they can take action and pro­vide solu­tions that will be used and are more like­ly to work.

PTO

Paid time off (PTO) is cru­cial­ly get­ting redesigned for the new work­place. Aside from chang­ing the deliv­ery with options like unlim­it­ed PTO, com­pa­nies are insist­ing peo­ple take time off. Gold­man Sachs, for instance, will require employ­ees to take a min­i­mum of 15 days off per year begin­ning in 2023.

Even if some orga­ni­za­tions do not have a min­i­mum vaca­tion pol­i­cy, they are encour­ag­ing lead­ers to use their PTO to mod­el healthy behav­ior. Many employ­ees feel pres­sure to keep work­ing, espe­cial­ly if they see their boss­es chain­ing them­selves to their desks. Get­ting peo­ple in the Unit­ed States to use their PTO is part of a cul­tur­al shift that is tak­ing place. Sud­den­ly, peo­ple are inter­est­ed in mak­ing work-life bal­ance a pri­or­i­ty. Get­ting time off and step­ping away from work is a way to com­bat burnout.

Mini Breaks

Some HR lead­ers are push­ing for mini breaks through­out the day. This could be a five- or 10-minute pause after a meet­ing or between tasks. The idea is for peo­ple to take a deep breath, go to the bath­room, reflect on their to-do list or what hap­pened in the last meet­ing, walk around a bit, rest their eyes after hours on the com­put­er, etc.

This is a short­er ver­sion of the tra­di­tion­al cof­fee break (but one cer­tain­ly could grab a cof­fee or tea). Mini breaks allow peo­ple to tran­si­tion from one task to anoth­er and briefly rest their mind, so they do not feel as though they are on the go 24/7. Some com­pa­nies, as report­ed in the Employ­ee Engage­ment and Expe­ri­ence for the Post-COVID World report, offer zen rooms that give peo­ple a chance to chill out at work.

Better Scheduling

Hav­ing bet­ter work-life bal­ance can improve stress and reduce the like­li­hood of burnout. Again, it’s incum­bent upon lead­ers in the orga­ni­za­tion to set the stan­dard by not send­ing out emails before or after typ­i­cal work­ing hours, for exam­ple. Make rules about when team­mates can call one anoth­er about work — and stick to them.

Most impor­tant­ly, rec­og­nize when a meet­ing could be an email and do not sched­ule it. In fact, some com­pa­nies are choos­ing at least one day per week with no sched­uled meet­ings. These sched­ul­ing efforts might seem like small ges­tures, but clear­ing the cal­en­dar and sep­a­rat­ing work hours from per­son­al hours can ease pressure.

Flexibility

Flex­i­bil­i­ty is the key­word of the moment. Employ­ees want per­mis­sion to work when and where they want as long as they main­tain their out­put and deliv­er for their boss­es. Many employ­ers are not on board. There is a grand debate about work­ing from home or return­ing to work with many in lead­er­ship pre­fer­ring RTO.

Still, there are ways to be flex­i­ble and empa­thet­ic. For instance, if some­one needs to pick up their kids from school, a man­ag­er can allow them to do so. In some offices, they allow work­ers to bring their pets to the office. Just know­ing that one’s boss sup­ports him if some­thing comes up can help com­bat the stress that leads to burnout.

Lighten Work Loads

With the labor short­age that many are expe­ri­enc­ing and the fact that employ­ers are try­ing to do more with less, peo­ple are feel­ing over­worked. In these cas­es, man­agers should del­e­gate, so that peo­ple are shar­ing the bur­dens. Also, they can refrain from hav­ing peo­ple do repet­i­tive tasks that might be nice but are not nec­es­sary. Per­haps, work­ers can gath­er num­bers for the month­ly report every oth­er month instead.

Find­ing ways to help employ­ees pre­vent burnout is a top pri­or­i­ty for HR lead­ers. After all, burnout is con­tribut­ing to the record num­ber of Amer­i­cans quit­ting their jobs, which is caus­ing a labor short­age for many. To com­bat burnout is a way to work on retention.

By Francesca Di Meglio

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network