How companies are trying to reduce employee burnout

The absence of family vacations and opportunities to ‘hang out’ with friends has led to a serious situation of burnout amongst employees

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There was a time when ‘burnout’ or ‘mental stress’ were the good-to-read topics in our country. While stress and burnout did exist even before the pandemic, the tendency was to ignore them as the impact wasn’t that noticeable or widespread.

The current crisis, however, has made people realise and truly acknowledge the importance of mental wellness. Corporates have woken up to the fact that these are issues that cannot be ignored any more.

The problem has only worsened with people having been forced to remain confined to their homes for over a year. The knowledge that ‘return to office’ is not going to happen anytime soon is only adding to the frustration, anxiety and stress levels.

“The volume of work has gone up in the IT industry rather than slowing down during the pandemic. So we are trying to encourage some behavioural changes, to help reduce burnout in our employees.”

Vivek Tripathi, vice president – human resource, Newgen Software

In pre-COVID times, people could hang out with friends and enjoy family vacations. Now, even entertaining such thoughts has become unimaginable. Add to that the routine of office work being juggled alongside domestic chores, the toll on the human mind, especially for women who are mothers or caregivers has been heavy. Burnout is the inevitable outcome.

Many companies are now encouraging employees to take short frequent breaks through out the day to break the monotony, and reduce burnout.

For instance, Newgen Software has restructured the work-from-home scenario for its employees. Vivek Tripathi, vice president – human resource, Newgen Software, explains that during work-from-office, the day and schedule are properly structured factoring in small but important things such as lunch breaks. However, since everyone is now working from home, the lunch timings will differ from one home to another. Therefore, the Company is trying to structure things and replicate the office environment to some extent.

“Our LEAP (Learn, Engage, Aware, Praise) framework has been designed with a holistic focus on the mind, body and soul of all our stakeholders. Our organisation wide guidelines on Recharge Days, Happy Hours and Radio Silence Days have ensured a healthy ‘screen – off screen’ balance for our employees.”

Amit Das, CHRO, Bennett Coleman & Company (BCCL)

The Company is also trying to encourage people to refrain from responding to emails and official calls on weekends and holidays. A touch of informal fun activities and virtual collaborations on Fridays is a small step towards reducing stress levels to a certain extent, giving employees a break.

“The volume of work has gone up in the IT industry rather than slowing down during the pandemic. So we are trying to encourage some behavioural changes, to help reduce burnout in our employees,” shares Tripathi.

Amit Das, CHRO, Bennett Coleman & Company (BCCL), shares with HRKatha that they are putting into practise various initiatives, to ensure healthy breaks between work. “Our LEAP (Learn, Engage, Aware, Praise) framework has been designed with a holistic focus on the mind, body and soul of all our stakeholders. Our organisation wide guidelines on Recharge Days, Happy Hours and Radio Silence Days have ensured a healthy ‘screen – off screen’ balance for our employees,” says Das.

Additionally, BCCL has also implemented collaborative tools in the organisation, which facilitate the time managed on collaborations. “This has helped employees stay ‘socially connected’ in a ‘social distancing’ era, which has led to a mindset shift from ‘we should do this in person’ to ‘do we need to do this in person?’,” explains Das.

“The workload is immense, especially in my industry, as we need to maintain productivity during such a crisis also. We have focused on the R&R activities at our workplace, in terms of appreciating employees for their hard work, which helps maintain performance and productivity.”

Anand Jha, VP & HR head, Café Coffee Day

Talking to HRKatha on the issue, Anand Jha, VP & HR head, Café Coffee Day, agrees that there is immense stress at work. Talking about his own industry, in particular, he reveals that the competitiveness has increased and people are battling immense workload. To add to the troubles, there is the ‘work-from-home syndrome’. “The workload is immense, especially in my industry, as we need to maintain productivity during such a crisis also,” says Jha.

Café Coffee Day has tied up with a wellness partner through which it promotes early morning walks and meditation habits amongst employees. The firm believes that taking such steps can reduce the stress level of the staff and allow their brains to regenerate.

“In fact, I personally have been attending these meditation sessions since last year and it has been really fruitful. Not only do I encourage our colleagues to be part of such a good programme but I also personally monitor how many people attend such sessions,” mentions Jha.

Jha also believes that it is very important to keep up the morale of the employees and ensure performance, because with such a crisis at hand, if an employee fails to deliver at work, it only adds to the stress. “We have focused on the R&R activities at our workplace, in terms of appreciating employees for their hard work, which helps maintain performance and productivity,” adds Jha.

This pandemic has made people realise the need for mental wellness at work. We can only hope that such conversations and dialogues continue even after the lockdown ends, because such issues will remain normal at workplaces.

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