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Boost Employee Engagement in the Face of Pandemic Fatigue

Posted February 2, 2021


An astounding 71 percent of American employees who say their work can be done from home are doing just that: working from home. And it’s a popular option, with 54 percent saying they would like to do so after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a unique type of fatigue facing workers. It’s not work-from-home fatigue; it’s isolation fatigue. It’s pandemic fatigue.

Without traditional coffee breaks or the occasional water cooler chatter, many employees are experiencing burnout and citing the pandemic as the cause. We miss the interaction. We miss each other. We miss normal. With our eyes focused on “normality” by the end of 2021, what can you do for your team — and for yourself — during these next few months? 

Pandemic fatigue tip #1: Focus on the future

While there is some temptation to dial back until, as we’ve all heard, “the pandemic is behind us,” that might not be the best course of action. Position the pandemic as an opportunity rather than a hurdle your business is trying to clear. Why? Because it actually is in some ways. The traditional business model has made considerable adjustments in the last year to adopt new technology and reach customers that can’t be reached as foot traffic. 

Many of these advancements are here to stay. This is your opportunity to leverage these advancements as long-term solutions. For example, consider setting up a task force with an eye toward the future, taking advantage of the latest innovations to develop competitive advantages. Leverage the power of a purpose-driven culture by putting a purpose behind the ways businesses have pivoted due to the pandemic.

Pandemic fatigue tip #2: Encourage breaks

Or over-encourage breaks. It can’t be an “if you have time” break. They’re too important, especially right now. We already knew of a correlation between overworked employees and office burnout. This link requires even greater attention today, as employees are far less likely to have a reason to get up from their desks each day, whether it’s for a few minutes of inter-office conversation or a half-hour for a lunch with colleagues. 

These breaks can no longer simply be suggestions, because they have too much value to you and your business. Consider creating activities throughout the day that will take your employees’ minds off of work, even if only for a few minutes. Something as simple as a team-building exercise or game each day could go a long way in boosting employee engagement and reducing pandemic-related burnout.

Pandemic fatigue tip #3: Share success stories

The power of positive reinforcement is real and profound! Happy employees are more likely to be engaged at work. And that employee engagement is so important right now considering the lack of physical engagement taking place at many workplaces. Your employees need to know — need to feel — that they’re making a difference. That’s crucial, particularly with millennials

Positive customer feedback. Successful product launches. Even a thought-provoking brainstorming session. All of this is worth tracking, then reminding your employees of in daily or weekly meetings. And challenge your employees to track and acknowledge each other’s successes too. 

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