As the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions continue to lift, some are now enjoying the new freedoms of visiting friends and family they’ve only seen on video calls for the past few months. Unfortunately, the reality is that many of us in this ‘new normal’ are experiencing mental fatigue, for a variety of reasons.
Lifting of restrictions now doesn’t negate lockdowns’ impact on our mental health. From months of missed activities we had planned including casual friend meetings, to cancelled holidays, concerts and weddings, we’ve missed many opportunities to mentally refresh from the stresses of both every day and workday life. These cancellations were necessary, but now many of us are feeling the after-effects of missing those natural mental relaxations. Many of us feel tired, despite a full night’s sleep. We are left wondering why we lack the energy and motivation we usually have. Do you feel the employee energy drain?
Our recent Linkedin poll from around 130 people showed that around nine-in-ten UK workers currently suffering from some level of ‘lockdown lethargy’. Of those polled, 34% said their energy was lower than usual, while 54% said it was fluctuating. In contrast, only 16% said their energy level was about the same or higher than usual. So, it’s no surprise if you too are suffering from the employee energy emergency.
Unfortunately, there are often negative connotations surrounding discussing mental health. Some people simply don’t feel comfortable being open about this taboo subject. Certainly, people often use alternative reasons for why they may need a break, or even help. As a result, this can make it hard to identify when a person may be experiencing a drop in wellbeing. This is even more evident remote working environment where you have no visual indicators that you would naturally see in an office environment. So, how can you identify signs of low employee energy in a virtual environment?
Essentially, it is any deviation from their norm. These indicators can range from the following and more: lack of or over-enthusiasm, withdrawal from connecting with others online, working long or unusual hours, poor timekeeping, complaining of being drained/tired or experiencing migraines. Identifying mental fatigue and energy drain is only part of the problem. The next challenge is how do you provide the correct support to your people? How can we improve employee energy and inspire self-care?
It is crucial to recognise that there is no ‘cure-all’ recipe. We are all individuals, so therefore what works for you might not work for someone else. An extrovert may benefit from visiting friends, an active person may mentally benefit from exercise, a planner may benefit from planning a holiday in the future and an introvert may benefit from space from those that they live with. Knowing the personalities within your team and having that open communication with them is extremely important. This open communication provides opportunities to discuss candidly what is draining their mental energy and potential solutions. As a result, you can work together to put methods in place to help them have that mental recharge, improving their overall wellbeing. Explore the different potential personality types in our Myers-Briggs infographic here.
One thing to note, however, is that you may be limited in the ways in which you can help them mentally recharge. Sometimes the individual needs to recognise what has to change and put that action in themselves. You can guide them, but ultimately they may need to have the drive to change. As long as you keep open communication available with potential ideas to improve wellbeing, along with the importance of self-care and mental recuperation, you will have a strong foundation to build from.
In short, we need to all recognise that COVID-19 has been difficult for many people, in a variety of ways. The key is to be understanding and open about your own challenges with mental fatigue, mental health and wellbeing. It helps others to understand that it is okay to talk about and that you understand what they are experiencing. We can always benefit from being more openly human about our challenges, whatever they may be.
This content is based on a recent webinar hosted by the CEO of Actus Software, Lucinda Carney. We constantly strive to build a better workplace for people, whether that be by providing quality software, webinars, free resources, or through our HR Uprising Podcast. Why not sign up for our latest webinar on ‘Practical Wellbeing for line managers’ below?