It’s clear that workplace fatigue has been exacerbated by rising living costs and the ongoing energy crisis. On top of this, we’re now witnessing “quiet quitting,” a new viral trend in which employees “quietly” refuse to go above and beyond at work. Looking beyond The Great Resignation, we’re entering an era of “The Great Exhaustion” — with many British companies currently struggling to recruit and retain talent as a result.
The Great Exhaustion is defined as “large numbers of the workforce experiencing an absolute, overwhelming feeling of emotional exhaustion.” First posited by Australian academics, further research shows the impact of this new trend is worldwide.
In today’s war for talent, employers can’t afford to ignore this issue, especially with deskless workers — who make up 80% of the global workforce, but are often forgotten. However, navigating around this challenge amid tough economic conditions can be difficult. Fortunately, there are five, simple steps that employers can take to better support deskless workers and mitigate the impact of The Great Exhaustion.
1. Get rid of the “always on” culture.
The “always on” work culture is dead. There is no honor in working through exhaustion, and employers must cancel any culture that espouses long hours as normal working.
Taking breaks should be actively encouraged. For example, even though employees often have paid time off (PTO), many resist using it due to the perceived negative reaction of stepping away. However, proper rest is essential and can increase productivity. Ensure managers monitor and encourage employees’ use of PTO. Additionally, leading by example at the management and executive level is critically important for employees to feel empowered to unplug and recharge.
2. Open lines of communication.
Employers should not assume they understand their employees’ experience. It requires active listening and empathy to get a true picture. Before making decisions, listen to employees’ feedback and ask questions. It can be hard to receive feedback, but ensuring employees feel heard and well informed is fundamental. Open lines of communication, be open to feedback and demonstrate humility to support a healthy work-life balance and to prevent overwork and burnout.
This is especially important when considering employees who may not be office-based but instead apart of the deskless workforce. Engaging deskless workers, such as those in health care, retail or manufacturing, can help create a sense of belonging across the organization. And it can also ensure that all workers receive a personalized experience, timely communication and accessibility to resources.
Bridging the communication gap between deskless workers and the organization begins with consistent communication between them, their manager and their teams.
3. Cultivate a true connection.
Burnout can cause employees to pull away from their team and organization. This can negatively impact employees’ sense of belonging and increase stress levels in the workplace.
Fostering a happy team begins with building a connection for open communication. As a result, leadership must find creative ways to stay in touch and ensure that all employees — including deskless ones — feel supported and engaged. Learning and development (L&D) leaders should help managers and team leads keep in contact with deskless workers to identify issues and celebrate accomplishments in real time.
Modern workforce communication tools can enable personalized and timely interactions, leveraging data to create positive employee experiences throughout their workday. It’s not just about tracking employee hours or output but also empowering greater human connections in a dispersed workplace.
4. Embrace flexibility.
Today, many office-based workers enjoy greater autonomy over their working hours and location. However, it’s the hard truth that not all work can be performed remotely or as flexibly as others.
While the practicalities of flexible work might not be feasible for deskless workers, there are other ways for companies to provide them with greater autonomy over their schedules. It can be as simple as using digital scheduling to makes shift-swapping easier. A modern workforce management solution can enable these capabilities and ensure that employee preference is taken into account. This can make all the difference in cultivating a more autonomous working culture for deskless workers specifically.
5. Harness data to achieve balance.
Alongside shift preferences, workforce management systems can support an array of burnout prevention solutions — from supporting employee safety, well-being and work-life balance to providing more L&D opportunities. Additionally, such management systems can monitor hours worked, tasks performed, breaks taken and PTO used to flag employees at risk of burnout and provide managers with real-time solutions.
Most importantly, the data drawn from this technology can provide the insights needed to ensure that all deskless employees are seen, heard, supported and connected. By addressing these basics, employers can build cultures where burnout is banished and replaced by an engaged workforce, no matter where they are based.
Employee burnout has become a worldwide phenomenon. Today, managers and team leads should focus on ways to prevent burnout before it can affect the company’s bottom line and their people’s mental health. With these five practical steps, learning leaders can support happy and engaged deskless teams.