COVID-19 pandemic spurred a variety of workplace illnesses, including “the big quit”, “the silent quit”, “overemployment”, labor shortages and disputes between managers and employees over the return at work in person.
Burnout and employee well-being can be at the heart of many of these issues.
Two new studies highlight the importance of social connection in the workplace and illustrate why working from home may not be the optimal workplace arrangement. Hybrid Work at home schedules can help prevent burnout and improve mental health.
So what is burnout?
The International Classification of Diseases describes Burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic work stress that has not been successfully managed”. As a diagnosable condition, burnout consists of three symptoms: physical exhaustion, disengagement with work and colleagues, and cynicism about one’s job and career.
For many who have experienced burnout, it may sound like the metaphor that describes it: something like a burnt, shriveled match, cold to the touch.
What causes burnout and how to stop it?
According to global research, approximately 50% of employees and 53% of managers are burnt out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workplaces are clearly not prosperous.
As a social epidemiologist studying contemporary studies emotional distress In the context of public health crises, I have been keen to understand what factors contribute to burnout and how it can be successfully managed, especially given the ongoing challenges created by COVID-19.
You might think researchers would know all there is to know about burnout at this point. After all, burnout has been studied since at least the late 1970s.
Many studies conducted since then have focused on working conditions, such as pay, hours, management styles and nebula”corporate culture.” Thus, managing burnout has often focused on redesigning work environments and reforming bad managers. While these are of course necessary, it is not immediately clear that they are sufficient.
With the emergence of the pandemic, many people have new levels of awareness of the inability to separate work from life.
For some, this realization comes from the way tiredness they are when they come home from a shift. For others who work from home, it may come from the disappearance of the divide between home and office.
In any case, our emotional and psychological well-being accompanies us, whether we are at work or at home. As such, it makes sense that we take a holistic view of burnout. Social connection is a key factor in professional burnout.
The social costs and benefits of working from home
In a recent study conducted by my lab at Simon Fraser University, we sought to identify the most important risk factors for Burnout.
We looked at a range of variables, including the classic factors of workload, satisfaction with pay, dignity at work, control over one’s work and adequacy of pay, as well as newer variables such as home ownership, a set of demographic factors, social support and loneliness.
In conducting this study, we found that loneliness and lack of social support emerge as the main contributors to burnout, perhaps just as important, if not more so, than physical health and financial security.
In summary, the study contributes to a growing understanding of burnout as a social problem driven by isolation.
A potential and evolving source of isolation is the emerging trend of working from home. As many people have had the privilege of learning, working from home has many benefits.
It allows people to save time on their commute and have more freedom to do household chores or take a quick siesta on their breaks. This means they have more time and energy for their friends and family at the end of the day.
On the other hand, working from home means losing those water cooler conversations and occasional collisions with co-workers – which have a surprisingly profound impact on well-being.
Moreover, given the importance of workplaces and schools in finding and building friendshipsthe loss of these spaces could have serious long-term consequences for people’s social health, especially if time spent with others at work is now spent alone at home.
The importance of social connection for health and happiness
To understand the impacts of working from home on mental health, my team conducted a second study to examine differences in self-rated mental health among people who only work from residenceonly in person, or who worked partly in person and partly from home.
We controlled for potentially important factors such as income, hours worked, occupation, age, gender, and ethnicity.
Our results showed that 54% of those who only worked in person and 63% of those who only worked from home said they were good or excellent. Mental Health.
From these results, you might conclude that working from home is best for mental health – a conclusion contrary to a growing number of studies that highlight the downsides and challenges of working from home.
However, there is a catch: no less than 87% of those who declared a hybrid work arrangement — that is, they worked partly in person and partly from home — had good or excellent mental health.
While the type of work done from home and in-person certainly shapes these trends, our findings nonetheless point to the possibility that hybrid working may give employees the best of both worlds – especially in the context of our first study, which highlighted the importance of social connection with well-being at work.
Indeed, hybrid work arrangements can allow employees to maintain these positive connections with their colleagues while offering a better balance between work and life. life.
It really may be the best of both worlds – at least for those who can work that way.
As employees and employers continue to adjust to the new normal amid the COVID-19[feminine] pandemic, our research reminds us all to remember the importance of social connections.
It’s all too easy to forget that strong social relationships and communities are the foundation of health and happiness inside and outside the workplace.
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