If you are feeling anxious, stressed, and burned out at work, you are not alone. In a new Korn Ferry survey, 89% of professionals say they are suffering from burnout, and 81% say they are more burned out now than at the start of the pandemic. Many of us are overworked and uncertain about the future. Here are five strategies that may help you re-energize, re-invigorate, and enjoy work once again.
Say “no” but provide options – It’s hard to leave colleagues in a lurch when they ask for our help. But agreeing to multiple requests will only exacerbate feelings of being overwhelmed. Consider indicating that you are too busy to support but also provide direction to a service or another colleague to help with the request. Deflecting is of course more difficult to do if the person asking is in a more senior role. That’s when it’s time to speak with your manager to help broker a different option. In addition, consider regular check-ins with your manager to review your workload and identify approaches for dealing with repeated inquiries that fall outside of your core responsibilities.
Analyze what’s taking up your time – With reduced staff levels due to furloughs, layoffs, and the Great Resignation, you may have been asked to pick up tasks that aren’t technically part of your role. For a week or two, keep a record of how you are spending your workdays. If you are investing substantial time on things that are not providing value, consider meeting with your manager to identify tasks that can be dropped or to discuss more efficient ways to get them done.
Take care of yourself – This marathon of a pandemic makes many of us feel drained while the work continues to pile up. For managers, this presents a conundrum. They may feel compelled to put the well-being of their teams before themselves. Indeed, in our survey, 55% of professionals indicate that compared to pre-pandemic there is “somewhat” or “much” less emphasis on leaders’ well-being in their organizations. It’s common sense, but sleep, eat well, exercise, and take time for the people and the activities that you love. That will put you in a much better place to effectively manage others. As the saying goes, “Put on your own mask before assisting others.”
Don’t expect people to tell you they are not OK – If the people you manage - or even your manager - are more on-edge than normal, that can have an impact on you, your work, and your team. People may not raise their hands to say they are stressed or burned out, but they could open up if asked how they are doing. Look for signs that your colleagues may need a reset, such as if they are making more mistakes than usual or missing deadlines. You don’t need to pry into people’s lives. Just let them know you care. HR can play a key role by coaching managers on how to be supportive.
Shake it up – We used to break up our days listening to music during our commute, bumping into colleagues at the coffee shop, and chatting in the elevator. Now many of us are alone day after day with just the work. The computer is always there, day and night. If possible, walk away – literally. Take set breaks daily to get some fresh air, even if it’s just a walk around the block. Consider finding a walking buddy, such as a neighbor or a spouse, to talk about something different than the latest spreadsheet you are working on. Take your laptop to a coffee shop and work there for a few hours a week (socially distanced, of course). If your employer allows it, consider going back into the office a few days a week. Coordinate with your team to choose which days you are in and let the in-person collaborating begin again.
This pandemic has lasted more than most of us expected. However, the silver lining is that with the right approach we can develop habits that will keep us energized amid new ways of working.