Bouncing Back from COVID-19 Burnout

Recharging and Reigniting Your Post-Pandemic Passion

We’ve all been through a lot this past year.  Working from home has its benefits but also, its challenges.  Juggling workplace and home responsibilities all from home has brought on added stresses and blurred the lines between them.  According to a recent Indeed study, employees are not only feeling burned out but 67% of them feel that the pandemic exacerbated the issue.  Large companies like LinkedIn have taken an innovative approach to this issue shutting down the entire company for a full week to provide a mental health break and help ease the effects of burnout.  The struggle is real for many of us.  I noticed my own burnout feeling back in May, something I’ve never experienced in my entire career.  I’ve always enjoyed my job and its exciting opportunities along with the staff I work with and the daily interactions with our clients and banking partners- even if we were implementing a new MasterCard or Visa regulation!  I’m back on track now and thought it would be a good time to talk about burnout and share some tips on how to best reignite your internal flame.

Out of Bounds

When was the last time you took a break?  When I was struggling to understand why I felt burned out, I realized that it had been almost a year and a half since I had really disconnected from work and did something fun.  Even though I live in Florida which stayed open through the pandemic, as a family we stayed close to home.  For a while, the most exciting thing we did was go out for a “masked” dinner.  Once my gym reopened in May I had a second outlet but beyond that I hadn’t taken any time off during the last 18 months.  Even during the holidays, with my laptop at home I could easily and quickly respond to any issue or opportunity.  I found I was tired of staring at my computer, emails, and my phone.  I was no longer excited about logging into one of my favorite ways of connecting – Zoom Calls.  

Many of us who were and may still be working remote fell into the same trap.  The boundaries between work and home were blurred and without much else to do many of us traditionally hard workers turned into workaholics.  With these missing boundaries it’s been reported that the stress of a workaholic mindset keeps your body engaged all the time and can lead to symptoms like headaches or neck pain.  Studies about the pandemic showed that many of us suffered from technostress which is an overload of information and communications technology that can include anxiety, feelings of exhaustion, insomnia and more.

Staff Checkup and Checkout

I came to realize, if I was feeling this way many of my colleagues and teammates likely had the same feeling.  At Segpay, we’ve always done our best to encourage a work life balance but with the blurred lines, we decided to implement a few best practices to help.  For example, we’ve added periodic check-ins by our HR Director to staff members that were considered at risk and still working from home.  (Most of the Segpay staff returned to the office in June 2020.)  Our employee assistance program provides all staff members access to a mental health coach at any time of the day and as often as needed.  We’ve even sent out monthly reminders to the team to highlight that confidential assistance is available.  One way to tame the solidarity of working from home is to get everyone involved together.  At Segpay we gather once a month via zoom or in person for a companywide game of Kahoot.  It’s a lot of fun!  I also think wellness and getting moving is important too.  This year we implemented a wellness challenge to highlight healthy habits and just last month, we implemented a whole life challenge.  This was designed to encourage staff members to focus on meditation, sleep, good habits, exercise, and family time too.  Exercise has always helped me to blow off some steam.  Offering a gym membership might be good incentive to get inspire staff to get moving.  For us, we offer a reimbursement fee each month if you show proof of 12 visits to a gym, yoga studio or tennis court. 

Shut Down & Unplug

How about that time off you earned, are you using it?  We have staff members who habitually never take off all their time earned each year.  We’re encouraging everyone to block off their time to unplug and relax even if it’s not to travel somewhere.  It can simply be a staycation-but it should be something that allows you to re-focus and recharge.  Many companies are encouraging this type of mental health break.  Social media companies are leading the charge for example Hootsuite shut down the entire company for a week last month to give all employees a mental health break.  Bumble also shut down for a week earlier this year.  One of our acquiring partners requires its management team members to take a month sabbatical every two years.  This is a full month without a laptop, phone, or any access to work.  It’s designed to not only give the employee a break, but the company also makes sure every position is backed up so that business can continue without them.   How does that sound?  Not every company can afford providing as much time off.  Some are instituting a one Friday a month mental health break or a paid company mental health day.  Whatever your company can manage it’s important to have this time to step away and recharge. So how am I doing and how did I recharge my batteries?  I’ve been busy making up for lost time by putting some fun back into my life!  My calendar and my heart are full.  Over Memorial Day weekend, I took my first trip with my kids to visit my 92-year-old mom.  It was a much-needed recharge.  There is nothing better than a big hug from mom and her authentic Italian cooking.  I also traveled in June with my daughter to Colorado to watch her swim at the Synchronized Junior Olympics and catch up with an old college friend.  Last month I traveled with my husband, Jim to Sanibel Island to celebrate a big birthday for him and went to Chicago with the kids to connect with more family.  It was great to spend time with my sister and her husband as well as see my stepson and his new wife.  I hope to soon travel to meet clients in person and attend some trade shows where we all can reconnect together.  I think it’s important to have things to look forward to, so I keep adding things to my “fun” calendar.  I recently purchased concert tickets to see my two favorite bands- Kings of Leon and the Psychedelic Furs.  All these things have helped me feel more energized.  It has really changed my perspective and moved more energy back into being on the job.  You can do it too!

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