3 Things Leaders Can Do to Help Reduce Quarantine Fatigue

combatting quarantine fatigue

Isolation or quarantine fatigue are serious problems for today’s workforce. According to a survey by Monster.com, over two-thirds of employees are experiencing quarantine fatigue and burnout symptoms while working from home. That is up almost 20 percent from a similar survey in early May.

The numbers are unsurprising, as most employees were thrust into new working situations, sometimes taking on new and different responsibilities, without much preparation. Now, nearly nine months into the pandemic, the novelty of working from home has worn off. For those working outside of the home, changing responsibilities and different protocols are wearing on people as well.

When Eagle Hill Consulting asked employees about the causes of burnout, they said:

  • 47% attribute burnout to their workload.
  • 39% say it’s balancing work and their personal life
  • 37% indicate it stems from a lack of communication, feedback and support.
  • 30% point to time pressures and a lack of clarity around expectations.
  • 28% say it’s performance expectations.

Companies certainly are noticing their employees are feeling quarantine fatigue.

Tips For Reducing Your Team’s Stress and Anxiety

Utilizing Employee Assistance Programs

As employee needs rise, more and more companies are turning toward outsourcing their employee care and resources to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). In fact, one EAP provider, ESI Employee Assistance Group, currently serves more than 1,900 employers and more than 1,250,000 members. They offer employee coaching, a self-help center with over 25,000 personal and professional development resources, a new Employee Engagement Program, over 8,000 online trainings and help for HR managers. And one of the best parts is that not only employees, but their family members, are encouraged to use the benefits.

Doing something fun

Many companies are trying to take the focus off work and incorporate some fun and levity into their employees’ lives.

Wayfair has hosted a multitude of fun activities for their employees including Zoom trivia, a Google Meet pizza lunch while playing the game “Among Us,” hiring a virtual mixologist to do a happy hour tutorial, and a 100+-person virtual scavenger hunt with gift card prizes. Because there was no summer outing, employees received a Wayfair-branded picnic blanket and a $100 gift card to GoldBelly.com.

Meditech launched a Virtual Water Cooler series in which employees take turns hosting topic-specific virtual gathers about all kinds of non-workplace topics. They also host “no-work-zone” meetings and virtual “walks to the cafe” help foster a sense of community.

Limiting work hours

Part of what is stressing people out is the constant pressure to be working and struggling to maintain a work/life balance. According to Monster, the majority (59 percent) are taking less time off than they normally would, and 42 percent of those still working from home are not planning to take any time off to decompress.

burnout at workAt Reebok, work days and hours are strictly enforced so that there is required downtime. There are no e-mails after 5 p.m., or on weekends. No meetings can take place before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m., and no meetings area allowed after noon on Fridays. Also, everyone is empowered to block one hour a day on their calendar for time to do something for themselves. This is just one example of how a company can empower their employees to have work/life boundaries. Other strategies, such as core hours and flexible schedules are being implemented in many places as well.

Many people are not using their PTO since they are not traveling. Greenway Health is encouraging downtime and days off, and now has open PTO called “MyTime,” which all team members are encouraged to take as needed. They are finding employees who take some personal days in the midst of the pandemic was a helpful way to recharge, while it allowed others to restructure their daily schedules.

Quarantine fatigue is a real thing, and something that will likely have to be addressed from both a sympathetic approach to your employees’ well-being and a productivity perspective. The most important thing to remember, and to remind your employees, is that you are not alone; most people are struggling right now and until restrictions ease up, it is up to leadership to take care of their team.

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About the Author

Jennifer L. Grybowski has been a journalist and writer for 20 years. She has written about business, government, politics, education, and culture. She holds a MFA from Southern New Hampshire University, and also writes fiction. Connect with her at https://jlgrybowski.journoportfolio.com