I’ve recently been thinking about how this late stage of the pandemic has brought out certain personality traits in people. For example, I tend to be more introverted and have always preferred activities that can be done in isolation, like reading, watching movies, playing video games or just sitting outside. Those traits probably influenced my choice in occupation and are partly why I’ve felt relatively calm throughout all this. My youngest son, on the other hand, absolutely needs human interaction that no video chat can replace. Without it, he gets … weird. We now have a small trampoline in our living room, and the other day he was watching TV while jumping onto the trampoline, bouncing off the wall, back onto the trampoline and onto the floor. Over and over. Kind of like Steve McQueen bouncing the baseball in The Great Escape.
A recent study from Ketchum finds that many of us are tired of doing the same thing over and over. It points out that both frontline and non-frontline workers are suffering from high levels of burnout, and, anecdotally speaking, I can attest to that. Whenever the topic comes up, people I speak with generally say the same thing, “I can’t believe how much I’m working.” A big reason for that, obviously, is people want to keep employed.
The Ketchum study says that 70% of Americans report they’re more likely to stay at their current jobs than they were before the pandemic. However, employers need to take notice of burnout because even those who work remotely are feeling the effects. More employed Americans feel that working remotely has become important to them (77%) and 60% of them feel they’re more effective at their jobs, but 56% of those working remotely are feeling burnt out in part because of a struggle with work-life balance, which may seem counterintuitive.
So, what do employees consider important now? In addition to the usual of salary, health insurance, benefits and time off, new things like employee health, family, safety at work and employers that do the right thing are making the list. The report points out that, basically, employees are looking to get mental health benefits, a shorter workweek and more flexibility.
Are these things that companies can give? It depends on the situation each one is in, but I would argue that anything that gives employees a means of separating themselves from the job and to somehow revitalize themselves or feel appreciated is a small cost compared to costs resulting from mistakes caused by burned-out workers. Also, employees tend to remember what their companies do for them in tough times and good. If good employees are feeling burned out and bouncing off the walls now, they may actually be plotting their own great escape as soon as the employment outlook improves.