This leads me to my final point around setting boundaries. Before, we would go to an office, be engaged, do some great work, then head home and relax. Now, people have Slack on their phones, some work different hours than others due to other commitments of flexi-working etc.
I’ll be honest – I am a workaholic. But that works for me, and I’m okay with it. It’s my business, I take on the pressure, I’m young, and I’m thinking about it all the time, which is fine for me at this stage of my life. I have no expectation that anyone else in the company should be anywhere near the same because there is absolutely no reason to. However with us all working from home and having Slack on and emails, it would be easy for me to send messages out at strange hours. This would inadvertently cause people more stress than they’re already feeling.
So from the perspective of the business, it’s crucial that a leadership team sets boundaries, become role models for this way of working and then let it trickle throughout the company. I don’t email or Slack post-6pm, or before 9am. I’ll schedule messages, which has become my go-to. I use this time to focus on work that I really want to do when I don’t have back-to-back meetings. I put my Slack notifications on pause from 6pm to 8am, so there’s a clear recognition that if I’m not available to talk to in those hours, no one else should be either. We take regular holidays, as it’s important to go away and reset, and everyone should be encouraged to do the same.
From a team perspective, everyone needs to set their own boundaries. When they finish or start work, if they go to the gym in the middle of the day, shutting the laptop over lunch etc. It’s so important that people are able to set their own boundaries, and with a little aid and support from the team around them, they can then find a routine that works for them to help with the feeling of burnout.
To conclude, it is really tough at the moment, both as a company and as an employee. We all still have a long way to go at adapting to the new way of working and recognising a team running into burnout. However, if an individual is struggling consistently and with extreme burnout, this needs to be recognised by managers and the appropriate support should be provided.
We offer CareCoins to our team – this is where you buy a bulk of coins that are used in exchange for counselling/therapy sessions. I recommend this platform. Furthermore, we have in-house mental health first aiders who can be there to talk to and support. I’d encourage every company to have a clear escalated mental health support system because I have also used it myself.
Finally, do whatever you can as a business to prioritise your team’s mental health. Offer any benefits that you can, from unlimited holiday allowance and access to mental health tools to building a truly transparent and understanding culture. Doing this will never avoid burnout, but it can set some foundations to help us get on the journey of helping people before it becomes an issue and slowly adapt to the new way of working in a better way over time.
I’d like to thank everyone at NOVOS for their hard work over the last couple of years. We’ve seen incredible growth, and with that comes many challenges and busy times – everyone has been incredible in supporting the growth on a day to day basis. It’s a real privilege to work for you and to continuously build a place where you can do great work and, hopefully, you feel happy doing so.