The longer the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, the harder it is to stay positive, energized, focused, and upbeat. Pandemic fatigue is a real thing, and no one is immune.
Maintaining a healthy, happy, productive work environment can be challenging in the best of times. During the pandemic, this can be even more difficult; and with some employees working remotely, pandemic fatigue may not be apparent until it results in problems such as absences, errors, and reduced productivity.
Start by taking some steps to protect your teams and yourself from stress, depression, anxiety, and burnout in the coming weeks and months. These include:
- A focus on self-care. This may seem obvious, but self-care is often the first thing that managers and leaders sacrifice during a crisis. Make yourself take time to exercise, meditate, eat right, listen to music, read, or pursue other activities that bring you comfort and make you feel energized. Consider setting aside 20-30 minutes per day for self-care and stick to it. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip and have a second piece of cake or miss a workout.
- Use paid time off (PTO) to recharge. Instead of saving vacation days for a future trip, take a few days now to rest, spend time with friends or family, etc.
- Take a break from news and social media. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by bad news and negativity. Seek out good news and positive stories to inspire you and boost your spirits.
- Stick to routines. Manage the time that you can. Try to stick to routines and important rituals.
Now that you’re centered, take some time to empower and engage your teams. Three keys to this are:
- Make sure your workers know they’re cared for. Acknowledge and validate their feelings, including their fears and concerns. Don’t let people get lost in the shuffle. Make sure every team member gets some attention and is heard. While group accolades are nice, seek out individuals for recognition and appreciation. Stress to employees that you care about their wellbeing as well as their productivity. Look for ways to help with strains such as child care issues or food insecurity.
- Hold people accountable for achievable goals, but make sure they have skills and tools to be successful. Involve workers in decision-making and problem-solving. Have skilled employees teach others how to perform tasks or use equipment. Don’t wait for workers to come to you and request training or education. Ask them about what tools, information, or knowledge they need or want.
- Trust employees to do their work and empower them to make choices that align with their – and the company’s – values, goals, and interests. Encourage workers to take initiative and recognize their innovative and creative ideas and efforts.
By caring for your employees and yourself, you can create a work environment where everyone feels engaged, safe, appreciated, and valued. Even during these challenging times, your teams will want to come to work; and they will be confident that they are making a positive contribution.