Preventing pandemic burnout with early detection systems

Nov 18, 2020

We discuss how companies can prevent Covid-19 related burnouts and productivity loss with early detection systems.



Covid-19 has to lead to unprecedented levels of stress for both companies and employees. Everyone has been affected in one way or the other, and the internet is quickly filling with studies on the economic impact of worsening mental health, lost productivity, and lost sales.

It is a perfect storm where workers have been hit by two great sources of stress. On one hand, the changing economic conditions have put pressure on businesses to adapt, creating higher workloads. On the other, restrictions, uncertainty, and insecurity have negatively affected mental health, adding further strain to an already stressed workforce. The result has been an epidemic of burnouts.

Pandemic fatigue

The effects of the pandemic on mental health have recently been worsened by the new waves of Covid-19 and worries about mutations and vaccine availability. As an article by The Guardian put it “many are finding the latest lockdown more difficult because of a realization that coronavirus will be around longer than expected, dashed hopes about an easing of restrictions, and a period of sustained stress similar to overwork”.

Businesses are trying to adapt and find ways to mitigate the loss of productivity and talent, but they face a tough challenge. The current economic conditions are limiting their ability to invest in support services and the existing HR teams don’t have enough time to support the surge in demand.

In normal circumstances, managers should be the first line of defense, keeping an eye on direct reports and supporting those that are struggling. Today they are also struggling to keep up and sometimes they are the ones that would need support and care to avoid complete burnout.

Spotting the problem early

There is, of course, no substitute for human interaction and co-workers keeping an eye on each other, but in these difficult circumstances, we believe technology could be used to guide managers towards those team members that need the most help. After all, for companies that have large workforces, although necessary it is not always feasible to check in on every worker every day.

Things like chatbots, for example, could be used to send quick “status check” messages through messaging apps like WhatsApp or platforms like Slack. A simple daily message asking people to rate how they feel on a scale of one to ten can help companies track how team members are doing and spot trends at both an individual and group level.

These trends can then be used as triggers to alert managers and HR teams, allowing them to take action. If you’d like to find out more, do not hesitate to contact us.