As the business world continues to navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis, workers (both onsite and remote) in different industries are experiencing immense pressure. Now, more than ever, leaders need to be acutely aware of workforce frustrations and learn how to avoid employee burnout.
In 2019 the World Health Organization defined burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”1 In the past, the term burnout was applied most frequently to healthcare workers who worked too many hours in incredibly stressful conditions. Today, however, burnout can happen to any employee in any type of job and in any industry. And it is incredibly widespread: in one recent survey, 82 percent of respondents reported experiencing it.
I was recently turned on to a Twitter account called Room Rater (@ratemyskyperoom) and spend at least a half hour scrolling through the photos and comments. To give a bit more background, Room Rater uses rates the video background of journalists, political figures, and some random interviewees. From what I can tell, the backgrounds that they rate are not the fake Zoom backgrounds that have become so popular but are the actual background in your living room, kitchen, home office etc. What’s in the frame, what can they see on the walls etc. They use some humor but there’s quite a bit of good advice in many of the posts.
This led me to the question posed here. With much of the country still working remote and many companies extending the timeline to the “foreseeable future”, is it time to consider HR policy related to Zoom backgrounds (whether real or a virtual)?
Until recently, few companies allowed their employees to work remotely (in fact, the very idea of telecommuting has been around only since 1973). Because office optics determined how employees were perceived by their manager and coworkers, being "absent" - that is, not in the office - was seen as a clear indication that someone wasn't contributing. But over the past few years, more and more companies have been rethinking their remote workforce policies and other cultural and performance strategies, and the exception is increasingly becoming the rule.
The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated recently released the results of a survey titled "The Death of the Traditional Paycheck, " which focused on "how immediate access to earned wages (i.e., on-demand pay) and financial wellness can support recruitment, retention, and a better employee experience."1 The data revealed that the current paycheck system presents many challenges for workers, most of whom are ready for a change to the status quo.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the whole country hard. Seemingly overnight, everyone was told to stay home. Many organizations quickly pivoted to remote work, and others were forced to furlough or lay off employees. Months later, the business world is still reeling from the financial fallout of the pandemic.
When a company has to tighten its belt, programs deemed "unnecessary" or "optional" usually get dropped first. Unfortunately, diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs often fall into that category. During the pandemic, many such initiatives have landed on the chopping block.