After a year of a pandemic induced work from home situation, the numbers in surveys across the industry are showing that employee burnout in these circumstances is real and must be addressed.
Recently, Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index report found that productivity has remained very high throughout the pandemic – but it came at a cost with 20% of respondents saying their employer does not care about their work-life balance. In addition, 54% feel overworked and 39% are feeling exhausted.
These numbers reinforce the need to ensure all employees are developing healthy habits to avoid burnout at work; otherwise companies could find themselves experiencing an exodus of worn-out employees down the road. According to Microsoft’s report, 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer. That stat alone should give leaders a wake-up call about prioritizing the well-being of their workforce and start brainstorming ideas for staff wellbeing.
Enterprise software vendors have begun rolling out features to accommodate their own ideas for staff wellbeing, from meditation reminders to performance metrics. However, the problem with relying on vendor-specific tools is twofold: Not every workplace will pay up for the wellness features on their existing productivity platforms, and not every measure of wellness and wellbeing in the workplace can be easily reduced to computerized metrics.
Although IT pros may tend towards technology for solutions to challenges each day, the pros we talked to for this story all stressed non-tech-related ideas for staff wellbeing.
In reviewing the best practices suggested by working IT pros, a few trends began to emerge. Use these to shape your own ideas for boosting workplace wellbeing and avoiding burnout. Among the commonalities:
- Staffers’ physical environment matters.
- Let people establish and maintain a sense of control over their time.
- Finally, there is no wellbeing at work without addressing physical wellbeing.
Working IT professionals share their best practices and ideas for staff wellbeing below.
Underpromise and Overdeliver
“I do not represent that I can prevent troubles but rather I will perform due diligence in prevention/preparation and respond quickly to troubles when they occur. My practices and perspectives have created a consistent environment. I do not seek more business because I have enough. The main source of maintaining wellbeing for me is perspective and practices. I underpromise and overdeliver.” – Doug Betts, Computer Age Consulting, Inc.
Unplug From the Internet
“As much as I love the subject of online privacy and security, sometimes it gets to be too much. I find that the best solution to this is just to unplug. I won't look up research, read about privacy, use subreddits or follow Twitter threads related to privacy. I even take it a step further and just unplug from the internet altogether. I will take the time to spend quality time with my family, do some hobbies that don't include tech or go on a leisurely walk with my dog to embrace existing in the now." – Ashley Simmons, founder of Avoid the Hack!
"Regular aerobic exercise is a natural stress reliever since it boosts mood and releases endorphins. Exercise will also help you divert your attention away from stressful thoughts about work. If time for the gym or a run is not always available, increase your mobility at work by launching a fitness challenge, switch to an active desk, or take your meetings while walking/strolling around the office.” – Veronica Miller, cybersecurity expert at VPNoverview
“You are dealing with complex tools and systems on a daily basis, which is why you need to relax your mind through meditation. Meditate regularly and explore different ways until you find the one that fits you the best. My personal well-being has never been better, and it is all thanks to meditation.” – Aaron Haynes, CEO of Loganix
Invest in Your Physical Workspace
“When I began working from home, I knew I needed a healthy workplace I would feel comfortable in for many hours during the day. It started with a great desk and chair, as physical comfort has always been at the top of my list of needs. Then came the other aspects of the office, including my computer, wall hangings, window location, lighting, carpet, chairs, and even my desk toys. All of these things help me maintain a strong well-being as I work from my computer throughout the day. I know some of these items are trivial, but for working tech professionals like myself, how I feel in the workplace will determine how engaged and productive I am.” – Heinrich Long, privacy and security expert at Restore Privacy
Speak to a Friend
“Find an accountability partner to support you with your wellbeing. This accountability partner can be a colleague, supervisor, friend, family member or other loved one. Ask them to check in with you regularly on your health, wellness and overall wellbeing.” – Kyle Elliott, founder and career coach for IT pros at Caffeinated Kyle
Set a Timer
“I use a surprisingly ‘non-tech’ method to facilitate well-being, especially when surrounded by technology all the time – the ‘Pomodoro technique.’ In a typical day, running the start-up, doing my own work, and managing a growing team at CareYaya, serving client needs, and also being the proud father of a newborn baby daughter that’s now five weeks old (also known as, ‘my other start-up!’), I maximize my productivity by working in 25-minute bursts of intense focus, and then taking five-minute breaks to walk around or play with the baby. It’s surprisingly effective!” – Neal Shah, CEO at CareYaya
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
“For me it starts with seven and a half hours of sleep. If I do not get that I am completely off the rails. Start the day with some light exercise and guided meditation. Even though I am remote working, I still get completely ready and stick to the at work dress code. Throughout the day I am drinking lots of water and eating particularly healthy. If I am losing focus. I take a quick break and hang with my daughters or just go outside. At 5 PM work is done, and I switch into shorts and a t-shirt and play with girls until their bedtime. Forty-five minutes before my own bedtime the phone gets put away and I read a book or magazine.” – Prayer Solanky, Microsoft 365 administrator