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Companies continue to encourage and even mandate the return of the traditional in-office workforce. However, the transition from remote to on-site work poses many potential challenges for employees, including increased instances of job dissatisfaction and burnout. 

The following nine tips will help managers understand, anticipate, and develop solutions for return-to-work burnout.

Consider a hybrid arrangement

The entire dynamics of the workplace don’t need to change overnight. Implementing a hybrid of remote and in-person work gives employees time to adjust and increases flexibility. For example, you could allow employees to work from home on certain days of the week or for a certain proportion of the time.

To ensure a successful hybrid work arrangement, companies should also implement a virtual office solution, which allows for the remote management of postal mail, packages, and more. It’s an easy and efficient way to create a single, physical address for the company regardless of employee location.  

Offer mental health days

When work life is stressful for employees, their productivity, emotional well-being, and even physical health suffer as a result. According to Lensa, mental health days allow employees time off to rest and recharge. Upon returning to work, they’re more energized, creative, and productive.

While many companies offer mental health days, implementation is sometimes lacking. As a manager, you need to let employees use these benefits. Accommodate their requests and alleviate their fears about not looking like a team player.

Also, when an employee takes a mental health day, consider sending them a small token, such as a gift card.

Give employees a purpose

Burnout often occurs when employees feel as if their roles lack larger meaning. As a manager, you’ll want to help them make a positive, emotional connection to their work. Not only does it reduce burnout, but it also helps improve employee performance during stressful times.

To help employees find their purpose, reinforce the importance of their role, and encourage them to take ownership over it. Also, help them see the connection between the company’s goals and their personal values.

Implement walking meetings

Physical activity not only contributes to physical health but also helps reduce feelings of chronic stress. A walking meeting is an excellent way for everyone in the office to work out while working together.

Walking meetings are simple to organize. A small team, usually about five people or so, walks together while discussing a specific company-related topic. It usually works best for brainstorming or other “big picture” topics that don’t require extensive note-taking or reading material.

Even a 20-minute walk twice a month helps boost health and morale. It’s a fantastic way for your team to take a break from the office.

Encourage vacations

Vacation days are useless if employees don’t take them. Managers should check vacation balances each year to ensure employees are using their time off.

It’s okay to lead by example. If employees seem reluctant to use vacation time, use yours. As a manager, try to schedule your time during slower periods so employees have more leeway to take vacations during the holidays.

Employees who have a balance between their private and professional life end up happier at home and more productive at work. It’s not only a win for the employee but also a benefit for the company in the long run.

Encourage open communication

A lack of workplace communication creates a culture that can lead to burnout, as employees are continually faced with the unknown. Plus, when employees don’t feel like they’re heard, their overall dissatisfaction levels increase.

Open communication policies focus on several key areas:

  • Regular updates about all business aspects
  • A clear description of expectations
  • Identifiable benchmarks for performance

Remember, effectively communicating is a two-way street, so you’ll need to listen to your employees when they voice ideas and concerns. After the initial discussion about an issue, follow up in a few weeks with the employee to see how they feel.

Social Connections

People turn to one another for support, and that includes people who work together. When employees develop strong social bonds at work, they’ll feel less stressed and more engaged.

Encourage social connections in the workplace. Team lunches, after-work happy hours, and other get-togethers allow your team to get to know each other as people instead of just co-workers.

Remember that just because an activity might take place away from the office, normal behavior expectations still apply. You want to ensure everyone still respects one another and behaves appropriately.

Also, avoid “mandatory fun.” Employees should feel encouraged to join in but don’t make participation a requirement. Feeling obligated to attend an event can wind up causing stress instead of reducing it. 

Management training

Employees don’t leave jobs as much as they flee managers. Dissatisfaction with a manager or supervisor accounts for 75% of all employee turnover. Even before the employee leaves, the burnout caused by bad management results in poor workplace performance and increased disengagement.

Management at all levels should undergo regular training. Typical management training focuses on learning how to provide feedback, set goals, award recognition, and more.

All managers lead by example, whether they mean to or not. If you’re experiencing signs of burnout yourself, you’ll create a stressful environment for those you manage.

Provide career paths

A lack of advancement opportunities at work is a major source of stress for employees. Providing a way to grow with a role allows employees increased professional and financial opportunities.

Employees don’t necessarily need a change in job title to feel a sense of advancement. The opportunity for training in new skills related to their field often increases feelings of job satisfaction and self-worth.

Another element in providing advancement opportunities is providing clear goals. When employees understand what’s expected of them, they know what to work towards to achieve awards and recognition.

Wrap up

Nobody wins when employees feel burnt out. Fortunately, when managers understand how to recognize the signs and implement effective prevention strategies, employees will feel satisfied, engaged, and free from stress.