20 Reasons Why Your Team Members may appear Exhausted
20 Reasons Why Your Team Members may appear Exhausted
We keep hearing that we’re living in unprecedented times and that mostly office workers adapted well to working from home at the onset of the pandemic, with productivity rising around 20 – 25%. However, 18 months on, we are continuing to live through an unprecedented level of uncertainty, especially in the UK, for example, we don’t know if we’ll go into another lockdown, or if there will be any increase in restrictions again as Covid cases rise, and the NHS struggles under immense pressure.
On top of these concerns, we don’t know if there will be an ongoing fuel shortage, or even if there will be enough turkeys, or fresh fruit and vegetables to go round on Christmas Day! Additionally, we may not know if our energy supplier will go under, or if prices and taxes will continue to rise. The past 18 months have resulted in workers suffering from what some refer to as uncertainty fatigue.
Human beings tend to be creatures of habit and most people need and like certainty, structure, and security. These needs have been eroded over the last few months and many individuals are starting to become disillusioned with the weather, the major negative impacts of Brexit, and the stop-start opening and closing of offices and classrooms due to Covid outbreaks, and of course the onset of Winter. The main issue is that most of what is happening is outside of our control, so we are more likely to feel worried and anxious about potential worst-case scenarios. In addition, many employees have been on an adrenalin-fuelled journey over 18 months as they dealt with crises, both in and outside work. As a result, recent research reports that almost 70% of doctors are seeing an increase in the number of workers seeking help and advice regarding their mental health in the UK.
In the face of all this uncertainty, as a leader, you may find that your team members and their direct reports aren’t as enthusiastic as you are about your Change Programme, or the exciting new initiatives you’re introducing around Hybrid Working.
Here are 20 Reasons why your team members may well be feeling exhausted; they could have been dealing with all sorts of personal challenges outside work for the past 18 months, which all have been exacerbated by the pandemic:
- Most will have lost someone to Covid and not been able to say a proper farewell in person, or attend a ‘normal’ funeral, which is causing ongoing distress and ingrained feelings of grief.
- Many will have had Covid, with some still struggling with lingering weird symptoms of Long Covid, including chronic fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, and a whole range of unusual medical issues.
- Some will have lost confidence as a result of working at home or being on furlough.
- Many will have been in survival mode for 18 months and are now hoping for some certainty and more normality, but don’t see it.
- A large number of workers feel as if they have had no respite for 18 months, trying to juggle BAU with dealing with the impact of Covid-19.
- Many haven’t taken enough annual leave.
- Recent surveys suggest that almost half of the working population has been experiencing disrupted sleep due to increased worries about finances and workload.
- Some may be losing faith in governments and leaders; the news being particularly gloomy.
- Many have screen fatigue, neck ache, backache, and are suffering from poor posture, and a worse diet, as a result of attending back-to-back online meetings for 18 months.
- Many may be languishing, lacking motivation, and struggling with procrastination from spending too much time at their laptops and are missing creative brainstorming sessions and informal interactions with their colleagues.
- Some may hate working from home and feel a sense of isolation and a loss of identity, sitting alone in their spare room or kitchen day in, day out.
- Some may have joined your company remotely and never met any of their colleagues in person, which became the norm for many during lockdowns, and has resulted in people feeling even more isolated.
- Naturally, many are worried about losing their jobs due to economic uncertainty.
- And of course, many are concerned about their finances, as the cost of living continues to rise.
- An increased number of workers are struggling with anxiety regarding catching Covid from their partner/children/colleagues/fellow commuters.
- Some may even be worrying about the long-term effects of the vaccine.
- Some may be struggling with infertility issues or miscarriage.
- Many may be feeling overwhelmed by their workload due to staff shortages or having colleagues on furlough or off sick with Covid, or on maternity/paternity leave, as the new post-lockdown Baby Boom hits.
- They may be one of the 40% of workers globally, who according to Microsoft, are looking to change roles in the ‘Great Resignation’.
- Their partners may be working on the frontline and coping with ongoing grief and vicarious trauma, or even post-traumatic stress disorder.
So, what can leaders and managers do to get your staff more enthused and motivated?
As with any times of Change:
- Communicate changes quickly and honestly, giving the reasons for the changes
- Offer wellbeing support, individual or group Resilience Coaching or Training
- Provide free access to Counselling in an Employee Assistance Programme – the latest most-desired benefit amongst workers
- Train your line managers in how to identify and cope with stress and burnout, both in themselves, and in their team members
- Ask your employees what they want in a hybrid work environment; some may be desperate to see their colleagues again, others may be very happy working remotely
- Offer flexible working so that parents can do the school run, for example
- Find some Change Champions, who will be positive about a hybrid working model
- Encourage all staff to take all their annual leave
- Provide reassurance that they are being listened to, valued, and kept updated on any changes
- Be a compassionate, empathetic, authentic leader
- Do not book back-to-back online meetings
Undeniably, the world of work has changed over the past 18 months, so leaders and managers have to flex their style accordingly to maintain engagement and morale, reduce attrition, and encourage a health and wellbeing-centric hybrid culture.
'Your Resilience Coaching has proved invaluable over the past year or so. Some of our staff have been experiencing such awful challenges and your support has enabled them to come to terms with their loss and trauma. This has meant that - against all odds - we are managing to maintain relatively high levels of engagement and retention. I know, like me, they are all extremely grateful, thank you.' Head of HR
Stay positive, stay safe.
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