By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Burnout is often thought to be a personal problem, one that can be solved by yoga and learning to say ‘no’. While the self-help list to prevent burnout is quite long, there is now mounting evidence that applying self-help band-aid solutions to this evolving workplace phenomenon is only making it worse. 

The World Health Organization now recognizes ‘burnout’ officially as an occupational phenomenon, not a medical condition. With this, the onus of building a burnout strategy now rests entirely with the organization, not only on the individual.

But to create a burnout strategy, organizations have to tune in and turn towards their employees with greater empathy and first learn to recognize the signs of burnout. After all, prevention is always better than the cure. 

Burnout can manifest differently with different people. While certain markers can be generalized such as decreased productivity, lower quality of work, sometimes uncharacteristic disengagement can also signal employee burnout. 

Here are some of the signs that employee burnout is round the bend 

Downhill productivity

One of the biggest markers of burnout for all employees across the board is a productivity southward-moving productivity graph. Decreased productivity at work, missed deadlines, or increasing client complaints can be seen as laziness at work that might just need a swift kick in the pants. However, typically the issue runs deeper. 

In today’s work environment, employees are unduly stressed due to the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. The lines dividing work and life are blurring and most employees are still conflicted on identifying how to show that they are delivering value. Fears about professional progress worry every employee. The new employees can especially struggle to navigate the challenges of the new hybrid workplace with the dexterity of others. All these factors can lead employees to feel overwhelmed and stressed and manifest as burnout at work.

So, what’s the solution? Employees need greater clarity on work expectations and behaviors to overcome feelings of uncertainty. The organization has to respond to employee behaviors with more empathy so that employees can approach their managers without fear. They also can seek the help of peer coaches to navigate the challenges impeding productivity and causing them to feel overwhelmed and make sure that they address issues before they become bigger and lead to burnout.  

Obvious exhaustion

While employees will feel tired from time to time but when fatigue sets in and becomes obvious, it means that burnout is cooking on the stove. 

If you find your employees perennially tired and taking more sick leaves than usual, and worn-out expressions, moodiness, and irritability become visible emotions, then these are dead giveaway signs of burnout at work. Missing team spirit can also be a warning sign of employee burnout.

So, what’s the solution? Organizations need to help managers, team members, and leaders build their emotional quotient to identify signs of exhaustion that manifest physically and emotionally. This needs people to become more focused on driving mental health in the workplace, removing biases associated with exhaustion, and developing an environment where employees can reach out to peer coaches to help them with overwhelming situations.  

Low levels of engagement 

When employees, especially high-performing employees, stop taking an active interest in work, do not pay attention to the quality of work, and are sitting under a mountain of unfinished assignments and tasks it is time to pay heed. All is not well. 

All these attributes signal a lack of engagement that can lead to employee burnout. Organizations need to thereby have their identifiers in place to point out burnout before the smoldering embers become a raging fire. It is important to pay attention to the star performers and their behaviors since they are under more pressure to perform and retain their rock-star status in the hybrid work environment. 

So, what’s the solution? Engaging with high potential employees to identify their challenges proactively, roping them into the decision-making process, giving them more responsibilities or more challenging projects, or helping them become more visible by helping them develop better collaboration skills can contribute to greater engagement and consequently prevent burnout.  

Don’t ignore manager and leadership burnout 

While missed deadlines and pending assignments are signs of employee burnout at work, cynicism, criticism, and anger, dejection, and disinterest in managers show that burnout has dug in its claws there as well. 

Managers and leaders are the people who must inspire others, complement idealism with innovation, and be resilient in the face of challenges. When they find it challenging to inspire, remain future-focused, and do not find the enthusiasm to marry innovation with consistency, then there is a concern of burnout. Sudden withdrawal from conversations and a lack of interest in fostering work relationships can also signal burnout in managers and leaders.   These times are intensely challenging as managers can experience a lack of autonomy and agency. The feelings of lacking control, managing teams remotely, and being solely responsible for their teams’ performance and mental health can cause managers to feel overwhelmed as well. Additionally, the social conditioning and unconscious biases make them feel that talking about mental health in the workplace makes them weak, adding to burnout. 

So, what’s the solution? It is important to identify signs of stress and dysregulation amongst managers and leaders. Behaviors such as intolerance and angry outbursts, unreasonable deadlines for team members, unhappy team members, and lack of motivation in everyday activities indicate managers and leaders need to pay attention to their mental health at work and seek help on how to manage burnout. Peer coaching provides the avenue for managers and organizational leaders to discuss and address their challenges. It gives them a non-judgmental space to work out their difficulties and helps them identify ways to navigate issues that can impact their personal and professional well-being.

In Conclusion 

Organizations have to now focus on driving good mental health in the workplace by removing archaic biases that prevent employees from seeking help on how to manage burnout. It is essential to have the right mechanisms in place such as a strong peer coaching network that can help employees figure out that they are experiencing burnout and identify ways of how not to burn out at work. 

Peer coaches can provide immense support to new employees as well as established leaders. It can help them move ahead in their professional careers with peace of mind and resilience. A healthy peer coaching network helps in driving mental health in the workplace. It is an effective strategy to remove unconscious bias associated with help-seeking behaviors and increase empathy and emotional resilience. 

Connect with us to see how to design, plan and implement a peer coaching program powered by AI to identify and cull burnout in your organization today. 

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

Organizational success is bound to employee well-being. The past couple of years have more than proved this statement right. The WHO’s health definition aptly puts ‘well-being’ as “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease”.

Is it necessary for employers to be concerned about employees? 

The answer is yes! Only a ‘well’ workforce can be motivated and productive, especially in a persisting pandemic situation. As for prospective job seekers, priorities are changing and employers that can meet well-being needs will become employers of choice. Enterprise leaders across industries who have acknowledged this need have started providing various employee assistance programs like counseling services and mental health assessments.

The definition of employee well-being in today’s workplace is the mental, emotional, and physical state of the employee induced by stress factors like uncertainty, expectation, productivity, and work-life balance. A constantly evolving work and home environment, a future with remote working or hybrid workspaces, and health concerns are additionally taking a toll on employee well-being.

How can an organization mitigate this threat to employee well-being? 

The success lies in the genuine participation of both employers and employees in workplace well-being initiatives and self-improvement.

The primary concern with employee wellbeing begins with issues that arise at work from home (WFH).

Stress triggers from (WFH)

Employees are constantly juggling the crystal balls of work and home without an option to put down either. The problems appear endless, creating physical and emotional stress. So here are some recommendations – 

For Employees: When you are working, wherever that is, you have to be at work, ensure you have a corner at home with your back literally to the wall to withdraw to work. Eliminate distractions and intrusions. Whiteboards move home now, with schedules and planned activities, including breaks for everyone. Take help, personal or professional when necessary. Communicate with your team about time schedules for meetings. 

For Employers: Create an environment of empathy and listening along the management hierarchy. Work and life have been tough for everyone in these uncertain times, kindness is free and easy to implement. 

  • Create an environment of trust where employees can open up with their problems.
  • Design Employee Assistance Programs with inputs from employees. Reach out with solutions that work for both organization and employees. 
  • Enable support group helpline, for employees in need. 
  • Encourage social connections or employee friendships preventing social isolation. Having friends you know online is a better option than none at all.
  • Implement flexible working hours, move work scheduling and responsibility into the hands of the employees to achieve their goals during remote working.

Employees returning to work from maternity leave

Employees – Before going on leave and returning from maternity leave, know your rights and study company policies for rejoining. Be open to upskill or learn something new. Take help from support communities, family, and friends.

Employers – Do accommodate parental and sick leaves or sabbaticals for employees returning from maternity. Introduce internal career counseling, and peer coaching to motivate and reorient them as they return to projects and teams.

Challenges of Mental and Emotional issues

Mental ill-health alters thinking, behavior, and emotions, affecting social and psychological behavior. The ability to maintain relationships or handle stress is compromised, leading to an overall lack of energy, severe mood swings, excessive or reduced sleeping, and eating. Emotional well-being is a projection of the state of mental health. It is having an awareness of your emotions and an ability to deal with them accordingly.

Employees – Excessive WFH stress accompanied by pre-existing unidentified conditions can be triggers for mental issues. Be proactive, take an assessment test, and protect yourself from going into a downward spiral! A recent survey said 55.3% of professionals said their organization offered employees access to Employee Assistance Programs. Be informed and participative!

Employers – 

  • Encourage open discussion, to destigmatize and normalize mental and emotional health. 
  • Do not stop at providing mental assessment tests only. Enable support group programs, inclusive of medical help for affected employees. 
  • Create employee awareness about company policies and resources on the same.

Work-from-Home Burnout

Burnout is a non-medical condition causing a state of physical or emotional exhaustion involving loss of identity and feeling of under accomplishment. Burnout is not related to excess working time but impaired social functioning due to:

  • Health problems like distress, depression, anxiety, and psychosomatic issues 
  • Job demands, lack of resources, support from co-workers or supervisors, and lack of job control
  • Negative work outcomes like job dissatisfaction and low organizational commitment

Employees – Identify the root cause of your burnout and start addressing it today! Convey your concerns to your supervisors and seek help from co-workers. Build exercise and sleep into your daily regime.

Employers – 

  • Create a culture of empowerment with support, not command and control. 
  • Train functional managers to recognize habits in themselves that are creating burnout in teams. 
  • Collaboration of employees through Peer coaching is a solution to burnout, countering the feeling of lack of support among employees.

The Manager in today’s online workplace is critical for employee wellbeing and should ensure:

  • Communication and coordination within and outside teams with regular scheduling and monitoring through available mediums. 
  • Supervise and direct through scheduled weekly calls, discussing work progress and challenges, giving feedback and support.
  • Communicate with clarity on Key Performance Indicators to everyone in the team, eliminating uncertainty and defining success for the team.
  • Implement Peer coaching as a tool for collaboration and inclusivity in teams.
  • Motivate, synergize, and connect the team through fun or casual collaborative activities online.

The ideal way forward in this evolving workplace would be for enterprise heads to work with HR leaders on creating frameworks for support, inclusion, stress management, and collaboration. 

The organization’s human capital is its best asset; being concerned for its well-being is an investment into the future of success! Act on it today!

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

The future of work is hybrid, and it is now. 

As we move steadfastly into the hybrid work model, it becomes abundantly clear that this world of work will need new skills and approaches. In the post-pandemic world, organizations will have to re-evaluate the drivers of employee engagement and employee experience since the older drivers of engagement no longer remain valid. 

With the economy ahead promising to be unquestionably different, organizations have to now focus on upskilling initiatives to thrive in this new world order. New skills, processes, working mechanisms, systems of collaboration, team building, and new ways of thinking are the need of the hour. These cannot be addressed with a day-long training program. Developing these new skills to thrive in today’s complex work environment needs focused and continuous learning. Something that organizations can achieve with peer coaching. 

Read: Peer Coaching – The Critical Pillar to Drive Employee Experience and Engagement in Hybrid Workplaces

But how can organizations create a peer coaching culture?

Develop an army of peer coaches

To create a peer coaching culture an organization needs peer coaches. Looking at the employee base and identifying the natural coaches in their midst is the first step. However, often people themselves are unaware of their coaching capabilities. Helping people identify their inherent coaching capabilities assists in identifying peer coaches who can contribute to the organizational learning environment. 

Apart from the ones who are naturally disposed to coaching, organizations can also look at high-performing employees or those employees who show exceptional technical or power skills and coach them to become peer coaches. 

Managers can identify the potential coaches in their teams according to their skills and make them a part of the peer coaching network. Managers themselves can embark on a learning journey and take coaching to become good peer coaches. 

Read: Help your Leaders Transition to a Digital World – Start Peer Coaching Initiatives

Destigmatize asking for help

It is heartening to see that organizations are now paying close attention to their employee’s mental health. With the pandemic pushing employees towards burnout, the conversation around mental health and seeking help to alleviate stressors has become mainstream.

Seeking help has been stigmatized as a sign of weakness for the longest time and it is time to change that.

There are many who are still not sensitized to the unique challenges of their peers. Setting up a peer coaching culture helps in beating stigmas and creates a healthy work environment by educating people on the importance of mental health and the adverse impacts of poor mental health and burnout. Actively identifying toxic behaviors and addressing them, sends out a strong message, that only healthy habits that are conducive to the workplace shall be encouraged. 

Peer coaching helps people become more self-aware by providing contextual information. Since it is a continuous and non-judgmental process, people are more open to receiving feedback. The continuous nature of the program also makes sure that people can circle back to their coaches when they find themselves falling into unhealthy work patterns or ideologies. Proactive support provided by peer coaching makes sure that the behavioral change needed to destigmatize aging concepts is implemented and internalized. 

Promote continuous learning

To develop a peer coaching culture, organizations have to work towards developing a culture that promotes continuous learning. This ties in with the need of the times, where changing business dynamics, a rapidly evolving technology landscape, and the increasing focus on digital transformation demand new skill sets. What is clear is that the pace of change we are experiencing is only going to accelerate in the post-pandemic world. 

The needs of the hybrid workplace also demand the learning of new power skills and the unlearning of certain old methodologies. Organizations that offer avenues to improve their employee’s skill sets by helping them identify their learning needs using contextual data are more likely to see an invested, engaged, and productive workforce. 

Encouraging continuous learning also drives a peer coaching culture as then the workforce is motivated to lean in towards their coaches to seek guidance on how to best navigate their work environments and ensure that they can remain on a growth path. 

Lead by example

Peer coaching can play a big role in helping leaders develop and evolve their leadership styles to suit the hybrid work environment. Managers now have to evolve and become virtual leaders from remote bosses. It is time for organizational leaders to lead by example and leverage peer coaching and become peer coaches themselves to navigate the challenges of this hybrid workplace.

When employees see people of authority encouraging, seeking, and participating in peer coaching, it also prompts them to follow their example. The goal of peer coaching is to help each other find solutions and unlock an individual’s potential to maximize their performance. When employees across the organization see seniors taking the right steps to enhance their performance and learn new behaviors and skills to thrive in the hybrid workplace, they are also motivated to follow the same. The legitimacy that peer coaching gets from leadership involvement helps in establishing a strong peer coaching culture within the organization. 

In Conclusion

With no playbook telling us how to manage these challenging and inexperienced times, developing a peer coaching culture becomes imperative as we go back to work. The workforce today needs understanding, empathy, and support more than ever before to forge ahead in their career paths. Establishing a peer coaching culture in these times gives employees the support that they need to validate and activate knowledge, reduce work-related stressors, identify growth paths and avenues of improvement, and increase engagement. All of these factors contribute towards a healthy and resilient workforce- one that is completely ready to manage the upheavals and uncertainties that the future holds. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can help you deliver a robust and thriving coaching culture across your organization. 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Uncertainty – the sure-fire way to breed anxiety and destroy mental health. 

With a pandemic that refuses to abate even after a year, the economic fallout, and a constant need to maintain the ‘always on’ mode, mental health has become a very important topic of conversation.

While enterprises have always been talking about mental health, the pandemic has necessitated the need to get even more focused around this topic, as the workforce battles constant changes in the face of new stressors, safety concerns, and economic challenges. In these uncertain times, providing the right and timely support is imperative to ensure that mental health struggles do not translate into depression and other debilitating conditions.

What really is mental health?

Given the challenging work environment we are operating under, and the cessation of familiar operational models with more hybrid models, focusing on mental health is essential to create an enabling workplace that allows employees to reach their true potential.

There is enough evidence that points out that a high level of mental wellbeing is conducive to productivity. Addressing wellbeing at work can increase productivity by almost 12%

But what is good mental health?

Mental health is the way people think, feel, and respond to situations and circumstances. It is the ability to navigate through life and its ups and downs. People with good mental health can navigate these challenges with resilience and are not ‘thrown’ by sudden or unforeseen situations. They generally have a good sense of purpose and direction and can capably deal with life and workplace challenges. 

How to drive good mental health in the workplace?

Having good mental health helps people play a full part in all the roles we undertake – in the workplace, at home, and in the community. 

The thing about mental health is that it doesn’t stay consistent. It fluctuates as people go through life and circumstances. While good experiences have a positive impact, the hard circumstances and situations, when unresolved, can have a very negative impact. This is because stressors impact personal well-being and overall productivity negatively. Since uncertainty is the only certain thing, employees need the tools to increase their distress tolerance and move ahead with certainty. 

Setting up a Peer Coaching culture in the organization can contribute immensely to bring balance into the workplace and promote the mental wellbeing of the employees. 

Here are a few reasons why Peer Coaching is now imperative in the workplace.

  • Promotes team spirit

Peer coaching can be a valuable tool to promote team spirit. Employees who have undergone tremendous change over the past year are again adjusting to a new hybrid work model. Navigating the hybrid workplace can lead to stress as employees wonder how to build trust bridges and connections that will help them succeed in the workplace. They also need to build new skills to thrive in this new world. 

Skills like willing collaboration, collective commitment, assertive communication are becoming imperative. These skills also bring in more efficiency to the workplace and thereby help in promoting morale.

To navigate this new world of work, employees need new skill sets. While the focus is on technical skills, it is the nuanced behavioral shifts that will help the workforce operate productively and with engagement. Helping them identify the skills needed to operate as a team is essential. 

Peer coaching successfully helps in driving these shifts as it is contextual, non-judgmental, continuous, and helps people acquire the skills that help them manage their work better. This consequently impacts mental health productively as it eliminates the worry corridors that we build to deal with lack of knowledge

  • Improves stress management

All employees now need access to the right people who can help them navigate the new and everyday challenges of the workplace. Lines dividing work and life are blurred adding to tremendous stress into an employee’s life. The absence of social workplace interactions can make problem-solving more challenging. The fear of perceptions can impede people from asking for help when they need it as they might fear being labeled ‘inefficient’ or ‘weak’.

 A peer coaching culture makes sure that organizations are sending a strong message out to their employees. It establishes that along with their productivity, the organization is also invested in their well-being. Organizations need to start talking about mental well-being and establish processes to drive that to help employees see that their interest in mental health is not just to pay lip service to a ‘trend’.

Establishing a peer coaching culture in these times help employees realize and destigmatize a few important things:

  • Everyone is struggling and that is okay
  • With knowledge comes the power to change a situation
  • It is okay to not be okay
  • They have the right support to help them manage their challenges 

When participants develop the skills to address challenges those challenges become the reason for confidence. Peer coaching simply makes sure that employees receive timely help before a challenge becomes a distressing stressor

  • Alleviates coping challenges

Mental health gets severely impacted when people are unable to cope. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Poor productivity, missed targets and deadlines, lower output, lesser engagement, etc. are all consequences of feeling overwhelmed. 

Overwhelming also occurs when we do not have the tools to address our challenges or hurdles. The minute we get knowledge, that very minute we begin to feel more confident of ourselves. It gives us the assurance to feel that we can manage the situation.

Access to peer coaches provides employees the avenues to close their skills gaps and address their coping challenges. A peer coach operates as a guide… a person who will always be there to provide support and guidance that will have a positive outcome. Peer coaching affirms that asking for help is not a sign of weakness and thereby organically helps people address their coping challenges.

  • Builds resilience

Establishing peer coaching networks organization-wide can greatly impact employee resilience and push it towards being more positive. Resilience comes from the knowledge that someone has your back, you will get help when you seek it, change and accommodating to change can take time, and change is the only constant.

When people get the tools that deliver enablement at work, it automatically improves their resilience, their capacity to remain resolute, functional, calm, unfazed, and productive during a crisis. While this does not mean that there will be no stress, it can ensure that the stress will not convert into distress and lead to burnout.

In Conclusion 

The good news is that the right support and right working conditions can promote mental wellbeing. When organizations create conducive, supportive, and encouraging work environments, they automatically move towards employee engagement and higher productivity. 

Peer coaching can play a big role in destigmatizing help-seeking and aids in building the right connections that help us navigate this loneliness epidemic that is becoming endemic to our times.

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can help your organization build a strong peer coaching network to drive mental wellbeing in your workplace – remote, on-location, or hybrid.