While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten people's physical health across the globe, the effects it has had on people's mental health cannot be ignored. In fact, employees in today's economy are feeling more overwhelmed than ever. Between battling constant fears of losing their jobs, feeling overworked and facing new challenges to work-life balance, it is not surprising that the pandemic is taking an unprecedented toll on their mental health. Whether working from home or going into an office, both scenarios present new concerns and challenges for employees that cannot be taken lightly, making it more important than ever for leaders to regularly check in with their employees to help avoid burnout.

Employee burnout can be very harmful to business success, especially in the wake of this global pandemic. Understanding the causes and recognizing the critical signs of employee burnout is more crucial to business owners than ever before. Based on a recent Gallup survey, there are five primary causes of burnout, which include unfair treatment, unmanageable workload, lack of role clarity, lack of communication and manager support and unreasonable time pressure. Throwing in the added pressures of the changing work environment (social distancing, masks, etc.), overwhelming health concerns, and financial struggles now facing employees due to COVID, employees' stress levels are reaching an all-time high making burnout an unavoidable concern for employers.

Some signs to watch for when it comes to identifying burnout among your employees include a lack of concentration, frequent illness, irritability, anxiety, lack of productivity, pessimism and arriving late to work regularly. So, if you notice your usual peppy, engaged employee suddenly shifting gears, becoming more withdrawn, frustrated and depressed, don't be quick to jump to conclusions, assuming they're just lazy and uninterested in their work. Keep in mind that this pandemic is impacting everyone on various levels, and they may be in need of additional support from management.

With a lack of usual coping mechanisms (gyms, social gatherings, etc.), employees may be finding it difficult to overcome the added stressors leading to burnout. This means it is even more important for employers to offer support to their workforce by regularly checking in with their staff, being creative and offering employee assistance as needed. As an employer, you need to keep the lines of communication open, encourage employees to take some time off, host regular virtual team meet-ups and take measures to enhance your employees' general well-being, such as offer free trials for a workout program that employees can take part in from home. Whatever you decide to do, keep the communication flowing. Ensure your employees are kept up-to-date on the company's latest happenings and leaders are providing frequent, consistent and valuable feedback to their employees to maintain honest and open communication throughout these difficult times.