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How companies are dealing with employee burnout
Sophia Lee, author

Sophia Lee

Writer, Culture Amp

The new year is typically a time for employees to refresh and reset. But with the current working world in a state of flux, that might be considered a luxury for some people. This could, in turn, lead to sustained burnout at the start of the year. 

But there’s good news: there are things that HR and company leaders can do to better support the wellbeing of their employees during this time. To show you how the most successful companies respond to their workforce during the pandemic, we partnered with RedThread Research to collect valuable insights from these organizations’ People leaders. 

How 3 companies are dealing with burnout at their organizations

1. Slack

Slack, a business communication platform, used the power of surveys to tailor its response to employees during COVID-19. Employee feedback, which was collected through pulse and wellbeing surveys, informed several of the company’s tactical responses to the pandemic, such as an increase in employee stipends for home offices and the creation of “Friyays” – a monthly initiative where everyone at the company takes a Friday off on the same day. 

In the beginning, people were unsure how to communicate what they wanted. Our survey platform allowed us to get insights into what was going on with our employees and avoid making assumptions. A couple of my initial hypotheses were proven wrong.

— Dawn SharifanVP of People at Slack

The use of wellbeing surveys also helped Slack pinpoint employees who may need additional resources around caregiving, mental health, or wellbeing. This has allowed Slack to support employees around issues such as schedules to help keep their heads above water.

It’s hard to both keep my kids sane and do a good job at work between the hours of nine and five. Leaders at Slack are working to build a more asynchronous work environment, where you can work over the course of a day, rather than within a fixed set of hours.

— Sheela SubramanianSenior Director of Strategic Planning and Programs at Slack

2. Talkdesk

The sudden shift to working remotely due to COVID-19 completely transformed the employee experience at Talkdesk, a cloud contact center. The team wanted to learn how they could better support their workforce’s well-being but were concerned that their employees might not feel comfortable discussing depression or loneliness in public settings.

Since they believed that employees might be more willing to share these feelings in a survey, they deployed active listening strategies and, through this method, identified some opportunities that weren’t being addressed or uncovered through other methods.

Based on survey results, the People team at Talkdesk realized that employees wanted more interactions and engagement opportunities. So the company launched Talkdesk’s first-ever Wellness Week and expanded its Diversity and Inclusion programming as a result.

We started to realize that the wellbeing of our employees was actually being impacted more than we expected because of the change to the at-home environment.

— Rod LaceyHead of People for North America at Talkdesk

3. Equinix

Equinix, a real-estate investment trust company, chose to help managers better support their employees during COVID-19. To accomplish this, they launched an initiative called “Manager Cafes,” which are highly interactive sessions hosted by a member of Equinix’s talent team and a senior executive.

Session topics include “recognizing burnout” and “reprioritizing work.” For example, the second session aims to answer questions like: How do you reduce the work by focusing on what’s most important to our customers right now? How can you say “no” to your executives to preserve the team's wellbeing? How do you reduce workloads by letting go of “nice-to-have” processes?

There is a skill set that is so core to these moments – having empathy and having human conversations. Helping people to be personally vulnerable is a huge adjustment in mindset.

— Janet LaddSenior Director of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Equinix

Despite the continued stress of our current circumstances, there are things your team can do to prevent, identify, or resolve the wellbeing needs of your employees. Take inspiration from these companies and their successful responses to COVID-19.

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