How Lockdown has Increased Workplace Burnout

Widely reported feelings of burnout suggest that tech companies need to focus on the mental health of their employees as urgently as rebuilding their businesses.

Mental Health

Mindfulness apps have been growing at exponential rates, unsurprisingly in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Sensor Tower reports that in the month of April, mental wellness apps in English hit nearly 10 million downloads. Recently, mindfulness journaling app Journify and Blind surveyed 6,000 employees pre and post lockdown to assess employee mental health. The two parts of the survey were during February 2020 (pre-lockdown) and May-June 2020 (post- lockdown.

Post-Lockdown Burnout

More specifically, the survey took a look at burnout; the long term depletion of energy and low mood as a result of workplace related stress. This is not a new phenomenon but given the lifestyle changes caused by Covid-19, the survey wanted to explore what impact this has had. In particular, the “workplace” is not how it has been historically. Therefore, tracking burnout given these societal changes is more important than ever. Burnout was problematic pre-pandemic but recent events have aggravated this. Worryingly, the survey shows that employees are more frustrated, unhappy, unhealthy, stressed, anxious and unhappy than they were 6 months earlier.

The Impact of Lockdown

Post-lockdown, employees are clearly feeling the effects. In May 2020, 75% of finance professionals and 73% of tech employees stated that they felt burnt out. These figures compare to just 58% and 61%, respectively, pre-lockdown. The figures pre-lockdown are still concerning and indicate a burnout crisis. However, it is evident from the post-lockdown figures that employees are suffering at the hands of workplace changes and additional stressors. Some of the companies with the highest burnout rates were JP Morgan, Groupon, T-Mobile, Apple and Lyft, amongst others.

Working From Home

The large-scale shift to working from home has been met with mixed responses. However, this particular survey showed that 64% reported feeling lonely whilst working from home. This figure had increased by 11% since pre-lockdown. Anxiety levels also increased over the same period. In general, the surveyed employees reported feeling under more pressure, particularly due to the blurred lines of work space and home space. 36% of respondents said they felt under pressure to reply to a work email, irrespective of the time of day. The survey also agreed with many other reports that employees are working more hours per day; this survey reported 61% working an average of 3 extra hours daily. Nearly 60% of respondents said they feel that they are less productive and efficient.

The Positive Effect of Mental Health Apps

Thus, the increased interest in mental health apps is logical. In the final week of March 2020, mindfulness apps had a 25% increase in downloads compared to January. Meditation apps such as Calm and Headspace seem to be the most popular. However, alternative mental health apps are gaining traction; specifically Breathe, with instructional breathing exercises, and Journify, for audio journaling on the go. These findings show there is clearly a demand for mental health apps, and a diversification of offering.

In the new work from home era employees are relying on their own broadband connections to be efficient in their jobs. It’s commonly known that office broadband is faster and more reliable compared with home broadband. Longer wait times for pages to load, internet outage, pixelated and robot sounding Zoom calls are all factors that add to stress levels causing further impact on employees mental health. Certain broadband providers are more likely to provide a more stable connection for working from home, be sure you’ve read broadband provider reviews if you’re considering switching.