Rates of burnout were already high before the pandemic, but over the last year, we have seen rates of stress and burnout rise even more dramatically. From academia to social services to food services, it seems as if almost everyone has been pushed beyond their tipping point. Women have fared disproportionately worse than men during the pandemic due to increasing workloads, remote work while trying to homeschool, taking care of the household, concerns about financial stressors, and taking care of family members. The struggle to find work-life balance has been very real. According to labor reports, nearly 3 million American women have dropped out of the workforce since the pandemic began, in part because they are the ones shouldering the burden of all those different roles.
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified it as a syndrome consisting of the following three factors:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.
- Reduced professional efficacy.
While not an actual medical diagnosis, burnout can be identified as chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. We may hear the term used in other contexts, but burnout at its core is a workplace issue. Early in the pandemic, many employers tried to implement different initiatives to try to help their employees. At 21st Century EAP we conducted training, workshops, introduced weekly mindfulness sessions, and open conversations on a variety of topics to help provide support through a variety of issues in 2020. We are continuing to offer virtual mindfulness and Monday conversations. However, if over half of employees are feeling burned out and struggling with their workload, it is sometimes difficult for them to feel that it’s okay to take time out of their day to participate.
Burnout can be addressed from an individual level, but it also needs to be looked at from an organizational level. On an individual level, we can do things like getting enough sleep, improve self-care, set better boundaries, eat healthier and get some form of exercise several times per week. While some stressors will end with the pandemic, we need to remember that stress and burnout were already high going into 2020. Staffing issues, managers shouldering increased workloads while trying to also support their staff, budget cuts, the challenges are many. If employees are chronically burned out, they are also more likely to experience anxiety and depression which leads to lower productivity and increased absences. On an organization level, it is important to think about what things can be done in the workplace to help reduce stress now as well as when employees begin returning to the office over the coming months.
For more information on how 21st Century EAP can help you or your organization, please contact us at 1-800- 825-5327.