Spotting the warning signs of home-working burnout

Spotting the warning signs of home-working burnout

The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world of work on its head for many employers. HR leaders that were used to seeing employees face-to-face are now having to manage them remotely. To make matters harder, the dramatically changing circumstances are taking their toll on the mental health of those employees.

Last June, mental health charity Mind reported that more than half of UK adults felt their wellbeing had deteriorated since the pandemic first hit; in November, they reported that more people had experienced a mental health crisis during the coronavirus pandemic than ever previously recorded.

It’s never been easy to spot someone at work who might be struggling with their mental health, but it can be an even bigger challenge when everyone is working from home. “We only need to ‘perform’ for the duration of calls or meetings, instead of for entire days in the office, which means it’s a lot harder to spot the signs and symptoms of poor mental health in those we work alongside,” says Kelly Feehan of wellbeing charity CABA.

Here are some of the warning signs that managers can look out for:

  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of confidence or composure
  • Change of behaviour
  • Decreased performance

These can be hard to spot because many people are exhausted from juggling family and work commitments, or from sitting in front of relentless Zoom calls all day, but they can also be signs that someone is experiencing problems with their mental health. Checking in with people regularly will help you notice if something isn’t right; for example, if someone who is usually chatty and upbeat starts being withdrawn or irritable.

“When a team member’s mental health is flagged as a concern it is the role of a manager to have the courage to start a conversation,” says Feehan. “Try an exploratory approach that invites the team member to open up. The most important thing though, is to ensure that your colleagues feel as though they have a safe environment where they can share these feelings.”

Here are a few good sources of advice on supporting employee wellbeing during the pandemic:

BetterPoints has been a disbursed team since we started a decade ago. We’ve always worked from home, so we know a thing or two about supporting colleagues remotely and managing distributed work effectively. We want to use that experience to help other organisations adapt in a way that is both good for business and good for the health and wellbeing of employees.

Just drop us a line if you’d to like to talk to us; or take a look at our 5-a-Day HR tool, which we’ve built specifically to give employers a simple and effective way to support the wellbeing of home-working staff and to spot early warning signs if things begin to deteriorate.