Autumn marks a seasonal transition in the way we live our lives. At this point, the majority of employees are back from their vacations, sprinting to wrap up their projects before year-end. For others, there may be an introduction of new KPIs and a push to meet annual goals, adding new pressures. Factor in shorter daylight hours, kids returning to school, onset of colder temperatures, and one can easily see the impact the autumn season has on day-to-day activities and general mood.
Mindletic app data reveals that each year during the autumn season, there’s an increase in self-reported signs of fatigue and burnout compared to other months. However, September 2023 saw a remarkable spike in reports of tiredness and exhaustion, surpassing previous years and setting an all-time high. Suggesting that this season, employees are at an even greater risk of burnout than before.
According to Mindletic’s CEO and Organizational Wellbeing Expert, Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė, September 2023 created a perfect storm of stressors that overwhelmed employees’ personal resilience and individual coping mechanisms.
“People often forget that burnout risk factors are as much environmental as they are organizational. Even if workplace culture remains the same, environmental factors can still profoundly impact mental health,” said Ieva.
According to the World Economic Forum, 2023 has brought a set of challenges that deeply affect employee wellbeing: heightened political instability, global recession, a cost-of-living crisis, widespread social unrest and geopolitical confrontations. When combined with the new quarterly KPIs and job insecurity, it becomes evident why the autumn of 2023 is associated with a markedly higher risk of burnout than previous seasons.
Ieva also added that “In times of mass layoffs and economic uncertainty, people tend to cling to their employers. They become more anxious about losing their jobs, which might explain why they are working longer hours.”
Managers often attribute the volume of work as the primary reason for burnout, often overlooking external socio-economic and environmental stressors. To combat employee burnout, Ieva Vaitkeviciute recommends that managers both equip employees with wellness benefits and foster a supportive work environment by making reasonable adjustments.
The Mindletic app is a helpful wellness tool for HR managers showing aggregate wellbeing data and providing insight into employees’ wellness scores, pinpointing areas of concern and periods when employees are at the highest risk of burnout.
For the individuals who appear most at risk of burnout, introducing reasonable adjustments can be beneficial. These changes to work practices are meant to help the person continue their job even when they’re struggling, preventing the company from losing a valuable team member.
Reasonable adjustments can be established temporarily or permanently. While the final decision rests with the manager, it’s recommended to work closely with the affected employee during the decision-making process, as they can provide valuable insights.
The autumn season can be difficult for employees, especially when their resources are limited and the workload is excessive. The manager should aim to help people manage their workload by:
Flexible approach to working hours
This is an effective way to help someone struggling with mental health. It may include:
Increasing one-to-one support can help people feel more secure, and it also means the management can help the employee stay on track. Short check-ins are best.
This is particularly helpful for individuals struggling to manage their workload or finding certain situations, such as tough client calls or giving presentations, stressful. Training helps to build skills and confidence.
Support from others
The manager shouldn’t serve as the sole source of support for employees. It’s important to recommend others: enrolling individuals in mentorship programs, coaching opportunities, or directing them to employee assistance programs or well-being champions. Recommending a counselor or therapist can also be considered if found beneficial for the individual. It’s important to allow time for individuals to engage with these support mechanisms.
The autumn season has emerged as a particularly challenging time for employee well-being, as highlighted by the recent data trends. Beyond the demands of the workplace, external socio-economic and environmental factors play an important role in the burnout puzzle. Employers and managers must be proactive, harnessing tools like the Mindletic app and implementing work accommodations to address immediate concerns and create a supportive and sustainable wellbeing culture.
Want to learn more about psychological safety at work and employee well-being? Reach out to our team and get a free consultation now.