According to a recent study by Microsoft, Work Trend Index, the pandemic has increased burnout at work. In the study, 30 percent of the frontline and information workers said that the pandemic has increased their feelings of burnout at work. In fact, the study found that India has the longest workday span as compared to the other counties surveyed including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Singapore.
The unhealthy way in which companies are currently operating is not sustainable. Yet, many of us are beginning to envision a better world of work.
Burnout seems to be everywhere. But it’s not inevitable. In this podcast by People Matters and Microsoft, come inside some high-pressure workplaces that have figured out how to fight exhaustion.
In this podcast by People Matters and Microsoft, listen to Harshvendra Soin, Global Chief People Officer and Head of Marketing, Ashish Gupta, Director of Product Marketing, Modern Workplace, Microsoft in conversation with Pushkaraj Bidwai, Chief Business Officer, People Matters on keeping people's wellbeing and safety at the center of business.
Here are the excerpts from the podcast:
2020: The good and bad
Commenting on the journey with burnout and stress and the major drivers, Harsh shares, “What we have seen over the last year that while the pandemic has created a social calamity, it also has given us new ways of think, new opportunities, and new vistas that were not earlier. However, initially in the foray of huge productivity increase of people working from home is actually washed away as we clearly realized that employees today are not only working from home but they are also working at home. There is double shift fatigue, there is screen fatigue, people have actually collapsed the boundaries between personal and professional lives, and attached to it is a fear of job loss and the fear of falling ill created a lot of stress and huge burnout. There people who were living alone for a considerable amount of time which further aggravated the wellbeing of those individuals. While the year vanished away without happening much but the good part as organizations become more resilient.”
The burnout is only getting aggravated:
Quoting one of the findings from the Work Place Index, Ashish shares, studying the productivity patterns in our tools, we saw the trends have shifted. Upon our survey, we found that workers have complained that the major factor that constitutes burnout is the inability to separate personal and professional lives. People have seen their offices shuttered in an attempt to contain the spread of coronavirus, and their home is now doubling as their workplace. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, as the pandemic stretches on, more and more employees are becoming burned out, according to a recent pulse survey by Microsoft–The work trend index.
Here are some of the stark finding from the study:
- Lack of separation between work and personal life as negatively impacting their wellbeing
- No commute may be hurting, not helping, remote worker productivity
- Remote collaboration is more difficult and remote meeting fatigue is real
Help fighting burnout at three levels: The Tach Mahindra Way
Tech Mahindra employs 1,25,000 employees across 105 countries. Harsh shares, “We looked at burnout and what is stressing people. We found that there was a physical aspect, a mental wellbeing aspect, and a social aspect–making people connected with each other.”
Here is a quick look at some of the impeccable efforts of tech Mahindra:
- Contracting the disease was a major stress point for all individuals. Hence we wanted to curb that stressor by taking all precautions by compiling with all the safety protocols. One of the interesting things that we did from the physical aspect, we launched a tech that helped in the diagnosis of COVID and it was made available to all our employees, their families, and our third-party employees.
- From the mental wellbeing aspect, we realized we have a lot of people who were living on their own. We launched an app to matchmake individuals who were living alone and people who were living in families and encouraged them to invite them to each other place to live so that they don’t feel socially isolated.
- Lastly, from the social aspect, we got people to communicate with each other and stay connected with people through a number of collaborative tools and technologies.
Data showed that globally, even six months past the first work-from-home orders, people are in significantly more meetings, taking more ad hoc calls, and managing more incoming chats than they did before the pandemic. As people adjusted to remote working, after-hours chats, or chats between 5 pm and midnight, have also increased.
Leading, managing, and collaborating in a virtual environment
During the conversation, Ashish shares some of the innovations Microsoft is doing to enable more connection, collaboration, and at the same time minimizing burnout due to increased hours of work and the inability to create boundaries at work.
Ashish shares, the analysis performed by Microsoft when they found that increased screen timing due to remote meetings has increased burnout. The research suggests several factors lead to this sense of meeting fatigue: having to focus continuously on the screen to extract relevant information and stay engaged; reduced non-verbal cues that help you read the room or know whose turn it is to talk; and screen sharing with very little view of the people you are interacting with. To reduce the screen fatigue factors, Microsoft has added new features in the Teams meeting experience that uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a shared background. The view makes it feel like you’re sitting in the same room, which reduces background distractions, makes it easier to pick up on non-verbal cues, and makes back and forth conversation feel more natural.
He further shares, that to enable managers to empower each of their employees, they have introduced the analytics feature in the Teams. With personal productivity insights in Teams people can strengthen relationships with important people in their networks, seamlessly schedule a time for 1:1s, stay caught up with key communications, and carve out time for important tasks and uninterrupted work. Further with organizational insights, Teams give leaders visibility into how work is evolving and impacting the people who propel their business into the future. By answering questions like, “Are employees at risk for burnout? Are people maintaining strong internal connections?
One of the key insights from this conversation was when Harsh reflected on the extra efforts that people have undertaken while working remotely, especially in India when most people live in a joint family, internet connections are often not stable and many houses experience electricity cut-down. He said, At Tech Mahindra we realized at this point fo time two things were very critical:
- The kind of leadership displayed by all managers, all senior management, and all leaders. We moved away from command and control to more resilience and inspiration. We encouraged our managers and leaders to have a deeper and emotional connection with their people.
- We didn’t want to keep the boundaries blurred so we set up and communicate some rules where we tried to avoid overstepping into people’s personal lives and create a sense of discipline.
Thanks, Harsh for such wonderful insights and takeaways that will help the community to build more sustainable workplaces and help employees thrive at work. Your insights and journey have definitely helped us integrate the ongoing changes that will be key to organizational resiliency in the months and years to come.