COVID-19 has caused a mental heath crisis. Many workers feel like they are not just working from home, but they are living at work.
Workers are burning out at record paces, so it is no surprise that mental health challenges are pushing employees to quit their jobs, sometimes without another job lined.
Research from Monster found that 95% of US workers want a new job because of burnout, while 87% of employees told Ceridian that they had already experienced burnout (of which 44% said that burnout was extreme). 24% of workers said they were seeking a new job because of burnout, while 36% said they would consider quitting if the right opportunity presented itself.
It is clear that burnout is now only affecting employees, but also HR teams and celebrities like Simone Biles and Prince Harry.
The Duke of Sussex opened up about his own struggles with burnout with tennis star Serena Williams during BetterUp’s Inner Work event. Prince Harry was appointed as the coaching startup’s chief impact officer back in March 2021.
In discussing his challenges with Williams, the Duke said he was running out of fuel, and he felt like he was “burning the candle at both ends”.
He continued to say that this realization forced him to look inwards and focus on self-care. However, he noted that it is difficult to find time. “The self-care is the first thing that drops away. I’m happy to admit that as a husband, as a dad.”
While there is lots that employees can do in their personal lives to improve their self-care, there are also ways that employers can support them and encourage them to really prioritize looking after themselves.
Here are three top tips from Prince Harry and UNLEASH about how to rethink mental wellbeing and self-care at work in the context of the ‘Great Resignation‘ .
Ask for help when you need it
At the BetterUp event, the Duke noted that people need to be able to rely on each other. This could be seeking professional help from coaches, or this could be candidly discussing concerns with friends, family members or colleagues.
“Anyone can help you in that coaching process”, noted Prince Harry. Williams responded that the Duke has acted as a coach for her in the past: “Whenever I see him, he’s always solving all my life’s problems.”
In the world of work, managers need to create a scenario where employees feel safe to speak up about their challenges, both at work and in their personal lives.
People don’t stop worrying about personal problems the minute they start work; instead, those problems can severely impact their productivity. Self-care can be hard, and it is important to not try and do it unsupported and alone.
Managers can do this by sharing their own worries, thereby leading by example and proving that it is appropriate for workers to talk openly at work without fear of judgement or retaliation.
It is also a manager’s job to regularly check in with employees. They should be doing this around performance, but it is important that they also take the time to make sure employees are okay. If their work is worsening, or their productivity is declining, managers need to figure out why – don’t go in all guns blazing and with negative energy, instead lead with empathy.
These regular check ins are even more important in a remote or hybrid workplace. It is much harder for managers and leaders to spot burnout. But with the help of virtual meeting tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, it is easy to jump on a call and show your employees you care and want to help.
A little effort really goes a long way. Staff want to feel like valued, human beings, not just worker drones.
Encourage regular breaks
Taking regular breaks away from your screen and your desk help to keep employees focused and productivity. According to Kaido, the creative process is improved when workers step back from their work and can see the bigger picture.
While making a cup of tea (or coffee) counts as a screen break, employees should follow Prince Harry’s example and carve out time every day to look after this mental health. This could be meditating, doing a workout or going for a walk outside, but he says it really improves his ‘mental fitness’.
Prince Harry gets it: doing Inner Work® can be tough, but it’s a solid foundation to build on. And once you get all of that sorted out, everything else seems to fall into place. ☁️ pic.twitter.com/C1Wn4Tj3Be
— BetterUp (@BetterUp) February 3, 2022
Of course, this is much easier said than done. The pandemic has worsened an already problematic ‘always on’ culture; some workers are concerned that they need to be available throughout the working day to Slack or Microsoft Teams messages, emails or calls.
So, again, managers and leaders need to lead by example. Tell your team that you are taking a lunch break – maybe even share photos of your walk when you’re back at your desk – and don’t get annoyed when they don’t reply over lunch time.
Another option is to start competitions about how many steps your team does in a week to encourage them to get outside or do some exercise during the working day.
Every little helps with regular breaks – even five minutes is better than nothing.
Offer good wellbeing tech
It wouldn’t be an UNLEASH article if we didn’t talk about how HR tech can help companies dial up their focus on employee wellbeing.
Tech like BetterUp and Spill can help employers give their workers access to coaches and therapists. While talking to managers can help alleviate some concerns, some may want to talk to professionals.
Therapy, in particular, is expensive for employees to self-fund, and given the impact that burnout is having on employee productivity and business outcomes, now is the time for employers to step up and help provide access.
Beyond therapy and coaching, employers can provide workers with access to apps and tech that can help them manage their stress and burnout themselves.
Headspace and Calm both provide meditation recordings that can help employees with workplace stress, as well as issues with their sleep.
Products like Koa Health and Thrive Global give employees access to practical step by step ways to manage their stress levels. It can feel intimidating to do a meditation or to start journaling about your problems, so being able to see how to make small, but useful, steps daily to help manage stress is invaluable.
Finally, given that the evidence suggests that mental and physical health go hand in hand, employers should also consider paying for employees to access to fitness apps so they can work out at their leisure.
Employers can also sign up to perk providers and offer discounts for products like Apple Watches or Fitbits to incentivize workers to be more active, particularly during the working week when they need to be sat at their desks for eight hours a day.
Ultimately, by providing employees with access to these products can help beat stress before it turns into burnout. Having a health happy workforce is not just the right thing to do, but is good for business.
This isn’t a tomorrow problem, now is the time to do better by your employees and help them look after themselves better.