Lockdown Fatigue

Living through a global pandemic introduces unique challenges which are likely to affect physical and mental wellbeing. Restrictions mean our usual routines have been drastically altered as we are being asked to work and remain at home. It’s therefore no surprise that many of us are feeling a range of emotions such as tiredness, lack of motivation and sadness. Which is now being explained as lockdown fatigue.

Even with employees working from home, controlling their own environment and in some cases, working times, employers still need to observe health and safety duties. Being at ‘work’ is not linked to being in a specific place, such as the office, but instead it is referencing the action of doing the work employees have been hired for. So how can we recognise lockdown fatigue and support our employees?

How can I spot signs that indicate my employees might be struggling with the lockdown?

It can be difficult to monitor the health and wellbeing of your team at the best of times, let alone with increased physical distance caused by remote working. However, there are several signs that you may wish to watch out for. These are:

  • Withdrawal – if an employee starts disengaging and avoiding communication and meetings, this may be due to ill mental health and/or anxiety
  • Unexplained regular time off – if you notice an employee is taking regular days off without reason, it may be worth checking in to see if there is an underlying mental health issue
  • Lack of focus and distraction – if an employee is feeling overwhelmed, they may suffer from a lack of focus and become easily distracted
  • A change in behaviour and attitudes – a noticeable change in a staff member’s behaviour and attitude towards their work could indicate something is wrong.

If I recognise, or if they tell me, they are struggling, how can I help them?

It’s important to actively listen to your employee and to put yourself in their shoes, even if you don’t have the same experiences. Allow them to talk at their own pace and avoid any judgments on what’s being said. It’s also good to remember that you don’t have to have all the answers or come up with a solution to everything, often just allowing them to offload some of their struggles or concerns can make a difference.

It’s also worth taking the time prior to speaking to someone (or having a few of the key points in mind) to think of potential areas of support you could signpost people to. Products like Employee Assistance Programmes can provide great support for people, with qualified counsellors on hand to deal with mental health concerns.

If you have employee benefits in place, it can help to have a matrix, or clear path that you can use to guide people to, especially if you have multiple plans in place where cover can sometimes overlap.

Remember, if someone opens up to you to say they’re struggling, that in itself can be a big step. It’s important to respect that and allow them to feel safe to do so.

Cardinus Risk Management suggest we can also consider three main elements when trying to help our employees look after their own mental health – Structure, Exercise and Sleep. Taking time to promote these amongst your staff may help combat lockdown fatigue and employee burnout. Please visit their guide for more information and practical tips on how to implement positive changes.

Lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic have presented us with many challenges. Some of us may have experienced some big benefits, such as the ability to spend more time with loved ones and less time and money commuting into the office. However, for many, it also represents a significant challenge. It’s important, therefore, for businesses to recognise the symptoms of lockdown fatigue and provide support to staff who are struggling.

If you need further help dealing with Covid-19 related issues, please contact our Employee Benefits team on 020 7543 2817.

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