As we continue to trudge through the pandemic and wait for the vaccines to pave the way out of COVID-19, employers are increasingly seeing the effects of pandemic fatigue among their workers. The same issues people are grappling with in their personal lives -such as a feeling of exhaustion regarding social distancing and masking, a sense of loss of community and camaraderie, and sadness over lost loved ones – are also spilling over into workplaces and affecting job performance.
Pandemic fatigue can manifest itself in noticeable changes in an employee’s mood or demeanor and result in an inability to concentrate due to anxiety and insomnia. And now that vaccines are being administered and there is a possibility that we may soon resume normal activities, people have a sense of unbridled excitement, like how kids feel when summer vacation is right around the corner.
It’s important for all employers to stay the course on their safety protocols, while at the same time acknowledging what their employees are going through. So for now, keep up the mask-wearing and social distancing.
Pandemic fatigue can result in things like:
- Employee disengagement, which can lead to poor productivity and mistakes in their work
- Employee conflicts, which can be caused by stress and exhaustion or if an employee doesn’t take precautions seriously and angering a coworker
- Lost concentration, which can result in workplace accidents as employees pay less attention to their jobs and safety regimens
There are steps you can take to combat pandemic fatigue in the workplace, but the first and foremost thing you should do is consistently enforce safety rules and make sure that COVID-19 protocols are included in your safety procedures. You can do this by incentivizing good safety behavior and rewarding that good behavior.
You must also be cognizant of the emotional toll the pandemic has had on your workers. Here are some ways to boost morale:
- Compliments – provide positive feedback when merited, even for smaller achievements.
- Show compassion – be consistent in your treatment of staff, and consider checking in with employees to ensure they are doing well. Ask how they’ve been faring, and show empathy and sympathy for the issues they may be wrestling with.
- Be calm and patient – calm and measured leadership can reassure the ranks that things aren’t so bad. Management and supervisors should work to be patient when workers are dealing with stress, so that they don’t add to that stress load.
- Exude confidence – part of being a steady and calming force includes expressing confidence that better times are ahead. Supervisors and managers should also express confidence in and appreciation for the employee’s individual commitment to stay the course.
These are tough times for everyone, and for many people their work and personal lives have been upended and replaced with little to no social activity and feelings of isolation and frustration. By providing steady leadership, continuing to enforce safety protocols and paying attention to the struggles your staff are facing, you can help any workers dealing with pandemic fatigue to better weather the storm that we may soon be exiting.