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How to deal with Covid burnout

We are hopefully now past the peak of the current Omicron outbreak and with many returning to work after suffering through the illness, it seems that the pressure is starting to come off slightly.
However, the follow-on effects with brain fog and fatigue have been a common side effect plaguing many.

Workplaces are still under strain from limited staff numbers and there are studies suggesting 58 percent of employees are suffering burnout and fatigue.

This a major area of concern for employers and employees alike.

Doctors are warning not to push yourself too hard after the initial infection due to the risks of “long covid” and as much as employers want their work flows back to normal they also don’t wish for their employees to overdo it too soon and fall over completely.

A report from Auckland’s DHB to board members stated fatigue management had previously been classed as “high” risk, but this had been temporarily elevated to “critical” to allow for the impact of the Omicron surge and the follow-on effects with ongoing symptoms like brain fog and fatigue.

These symptoms can interfere with your ability to perform your job. Before that becomes a problem, here are some options to consider.

Open lines of communication

Open up the lines of communication – this will allow a discussion to happen around solutions that can assist in a return-to-work program that allows time to recover and still the ability to participate in the work. Employers need to be supportive and understanding.

And employees need to be stating the facts, with statements like – “I want to get back to work, and I need help to do it.” Keeping the lines of communication open will allow a smoother transition back to normal.

Breaks throughout the day are essential. It is all too common for staff to miss breaks or work through their lunch hour. Everyone is entitled to a break and these are designed to allow a more effective rested employee to be more productive.

This time should be utilised effectively and perhaps instead of a catch up on social media and a cup of coffee, change it up with a power nap, or get outside and catch some vitamin D with a short stroll around the block.

For longer breaks,ensure that you get sustenance and this could include power nap if required to get through the day when you first return back to work.

For many that have been through Covid-19, the blocked nose and sore throat went away quickly, but not the mental fatigue. With many reporting that this can last for weeks after other symptoms subside.

With reports of many returning to work, stating they needed to rest multiple times throughout a day. It has been suggested to break up your day and if possible add in another 10 or 15 min break whilst still in recovery.

Another idea that many are utilising is to use leave entitlements (if any left). Arranging to do half days, or use hours to extend lunch breaks once or twice a week while in recovery mode. This allows majority of work to still be completed and more time to rest.

Brain fog is real

Brain fog is real with Covid and simply putting sentences together can be a struggle.

Reports suggest that for some the ability to recall short-term was difficult, and even long-term memory was affected.

People’s names, regular tasks and essential duties of roles can be details forgotten. It can really knock confidence in one’s ability to do their job. Working together to create a task list will help avoid missing any general tasks required and also help with prioritising tasks throughout the day too.

If the workload is too much and there really aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done, then look at bringing in a temporary recruit to take the pressure off.

This is where temporary staff have a place in the market, covering when permanent staff are unwell, isolating or in support over a busy period or return to work journey. We can assist in finding a temp that suits your role. With placements happening sometimes within hours to fill the shortage and provide additional support, it is a great option to have to continue on business as normal and allow permanent staff time to recover or return to work with support.

Working together throughout the recovery and return-to-work journey will ensure a smoother transition.

Understanding and care from both sides and keeping the lines of communication open and honest will be paramount to return to previous abilities and production levels. With hope we can all learn from this experience and allow for changes for less likely cases of burnout, additional fatigue and long Covid.

Related: Minimum Wage increase – coming ready or not

Kellie Hamlett
Kellie Hamlett
Director, Recruitment & HR Specialist, Talent ID Recruitment Ltd. She can be contacted on kellie@talentid.co.nz or 027 227 7736

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