August 17, 2021

The Great Exhaustion: Pandemic Burnout

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The Great Exhaustion: Pandemic Burnout

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After over a year and a half of COVID-19 shaping the way we work and live, employees are beginning to experience pandemic burnout. As a result, stress and burnout in the workplace have increased as the future of work continues to be a giant question mark. Burnout can have a large impact on mental health and well-being, as well as adversely impact the work we produce. 

So, what’s causing employees to burn out?

The Breakdown

1. They’re drained

A McKinsey report found that nearly half of all employees had some symptoms of burnout. It’s important to keep in mind that this number may be higher as those who were the most affected have likely already left the workforce. 

2. They’re anxious

With the workplace shifting to hybrid and in-person models, many employees are feeling anxious about the transition back. In fact, those that feel anxious are 2.9 times more likely to feel burnout. 

3. They’re scared

Employees feel nervous about the worsening of work-life balance, and getting sick upon returning to on-site work. But, employees also have similar concerns about staying remote, with fears of losing community and collaboration. 

4. There’s ambiguity in the workplace

Managers and organizations who are not communicating with their employees, including being vague about hybrid or return to work plans, are increasing their team members’ anxiety and stress. Employees need to know what to expect as they transition back to work. 

Woman in a work meeting placing sticky notes on whiteboard

The Solution

As managers, you have the opportunity to reconsider your approach to hybrid work and support your employees through this period of burnout. 

How can you help?

1. Inspire

With hybrid work comes less of a need for hierarchy and more of a need for new and inspiring forms of leadership. Managers can work hard to extend kindness and empathy to their employees as they all navigate these challenging times. 

2. Create

Innovation is key to positive change in the workplace and cultivating this requires unplanned encounters. To facilitate this in hybrid work, create unstructured forums that allow employees to easily access leaders. Additionally, offering employees access to coaching is a fantastic way to support them in every area of their life.

3. Model

If leaders model self-care and burnout prevention, they give team members permission to integrate well-being into their day-to-day work lives.

4. Track

Make sure to keep track of not only who is coming into the office (for social cohesion and networking across projects and the organization), but also how they’re doing on a physical and emotional level as well.

The Bottom Line

In order to keep your employees happy and healthy and keep up quality output, managers need to pay attention to the signs of pandemic burnout. It’s important, now more than ever as a business leader, to examine your practices and communication. Sustainable and positive growth will depend on the organization’s approach to holistic well-being. 

How are you actively preventing burnout for your team members? Comment below!

Looking for more personalized support? Considering the benefits of executive coaching by the NU Company.


Beheshti, Naz. “The Pandemic Has Created a New Kind of Burnout, Which Makes Well-Being More Critical than Ever.” Forbes, 15 Apr. 2021, 
“Hybrid Work Anxiety Is Causing Employee Burnout | McKinsey.”, 
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Know the Signs of Job Burnout.” Mayo Clinic, 2018,

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