One of the biggest reasons cited by workers, and employers, was not pay but stress and burnout.
In its lengthy article, the Journal listed different ways companies are trying to keep workers around: Four-day workweeks, letting employees decide their own hours, cutting back on digital meetings on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, increasing (as well as making mandatory) vacation time and one-week work stoppages for the whole company.
What is one suggestion for companies to combat burnout?
Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research
Compartmentalize work: Work must be separated from personal time. Being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week burns out anyone. The onset of the pandemic and widespread remote work further blurred personal and worker space already compressed by communication technologies. Boundaries must compartmentalize work to certain times of the day and to days of the week. This was established at the beginning of time when even God rested from labors on the seventh day.
Phil Blair, Manpower
Profound flexibility: If the job allows for it, meaning there are not client or fellow employees needing immediate response or guidance. Then, letting employees work a schedule that allows them to get the work they have committed to do in time frames that work for them. This would allow them to work early in the morning or late at night, if they chose. Or to work in spurts around childcare needs or school or sports activities. Once the employee and the employer have agreed on expected parameters of deadlines and productivity then set them free to manage their own work schedule.
Gary London, London Moeder Advisors
I am not a believer in burnout. Job boredom usually can be cured by alternating tasks or changing jobs. Job stress can be addressed by some time out, vacation or better communication with colleagues. Low wages can usually be cured through training and education, mixed with motivation. If none of that works, burnout is usually just an excuse.
Alan Gin, University of San Diego
More vacation time: Americans typically have fewer vacation days than workers in other countries. This is better than other work-hour reduction plans such as the four-day week or fewer hours in a workday as it gives workers bigger blocks of time to unwind. And it is more difficult for work to intrude into a one-week vacation than into a three-day weekend. To make this work, businesses will have to reduce workloads proportionately, or workers will face big backloads and more stress upon their return.
Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates
Friday flexibility is my favorite answer and it can be every other Friday off or half-day Fridays. This is not a solution but a great start. Burnout is caused by an overload of work, pressure, role conflict and ambiguity. Additionally, a lack of support, feedback and fairness as well as participation in decision making are factors to consider. Once these concerns are addressed, Friday flexibility can take the edge off.
Reginald Jones, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation
Not participating this week.
James Hamilton, UC San Diego
Worker autonomy: With the new rules and procedures, tasks that used to be routine have become a big chore, customers can be very hard to deal with, and everybody is getting frazzled. The days are gone when employers could dictate all the terms. The message today has to be that all the staff are valued and indispensable members of the team and you want their ideas for how the team can be most effective.
Austin Neudecker, Weave Growth
Personal mental health sessions: Companies should provide all employees weekly, fully-funded, confidential sessions with a psychologist, professional coach, or another mental health expert of their choosing. Having an outlet to be completely open about our work, ambitions, challenges, even external struggles and receive expert advice on how to address these issues is a vital first step to reducing burnout. Then, the company should strive to accommodate employees’ needs as much as possible (flexible hours, sabbaticals, meditation breaks).
Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health
Offer support: After two years of fighting COVID every day, health care workers are feeling frustrated and burned out. Health care and hospitals have used 5-8’s, 4-10’s and 3-12’s for years and we will offer virtual and hybrid work options where possible. Probably the most important thing we do now is offer professional support through our clinical psychologists in our Employee Assistance Program and peer support through our Resiliency in Stressful Events Program.
Norm Miller, University of San Diego
Flexible work schedules: So much of what we do and how we do it is based on habit. Many firms have lost employees because they did not allow flexibility in work schedules or tolerance for someone multi-tasking at home while looking over a sick kid or parent. We assumed hours cloistered together equaled effort, but we failed to focus on simply observing productivity. Today, we have an opportunity to rethink all that and one key to retaining good people is flexibility.
Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions
In our 24/7 connected society, some employees tend to work longer hours and take little time off. The pandemic has exacerbated this problem. Companies should develop a culture that encourages employees to disconnect daily and take time off to recharge and focus on personal time. Implemented policies and associated behaviors should be modeled from the top in order to be effective. If leaders and managers aren’t unplugging at a reasonable time each day, or taking vacation time, employees won’t feel supported to do the same for themselves.
David Ely, San Diego State University
Daily meeting-free periods of time: Employees need to have sufficiently long periods of time every day to focus on completing the activities and tasks requiring uninterpreted concentration. Trying to complete complex tasks during brief gaps between meetings or outside normal work hours can create stress for employees and contribute toward burnout. To create more opportunities to complete work, organizations can agree not to schedule meetings during certain hours of every day.
Ray Major, SANDAG
Set reasonable expectations: To remain competitive and combat staffing shortages, companies require increasingly more from their employees. In many cases, leadership sets the bar at unattainable levels forcing employees to work unreasonable overtime hours to meet their goals. When job demands exceed human limits, burnout becomes problematic. Companies should implement management practices that encourage employees to do their best, setting reasonable expectations that can be accomplished in a fair amount of time.
Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University
Poll your employees. Ask your employees what would be most valuable to them. Options could include more flexibility in hours, a combination of off-site/onsite locations, or mandatory vacation time. Individual employees could also choose their own preferences to implement. Most important, it is vital to check in with employees to show they are valued and to ensure that they have the support they need. As schools and childcare facilities reopen, hopefully, some of the life-work pressures will subside.
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