Covid Burnout: Spending More, Saving Less
Find yourself buying takeaway more than you were taking Zoom calls during lockdowns?
Or maybe making an impulse buy and staring longingly out of the window for the Yodel driver to knock on your door and run away with your parcel when you don’t answer after 0.5 seconds?
(Okay, that might be a little niche… you could have a Hermes driver who flings it over the fence and marks it as being in your paper bin!)
Many of us have struggled with impulsive purchases during the pandemic, but why exactly are we spending more than we’re saving, why is going back to the office so difficult, and what can employers do about it?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines burnout as ‘resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’.
…Sadly, frivolous spending on new shoes and Pizza Hut alongside difficulties adjusting to new working models probably isn’t classed as stress that is successfully managed.
Key symptoms of burnout include negative feelings or apprehension towards work, a sense of ineffectiveness or lack of accomplishment, drained energy, headaches, stomach aches, reduced creativity and cynicism.
Burnout may be presenting differently as of late, however.
The lines between home life and work life blurred for many employees at the beginning of lockdown, meaning that the methods we may have had for self-care and work/life balance were thrown to the wind.
Exhaustion plays a key role
The unique aspect of Covid burnout is the element of exhaustion.
When we’re exhausted, we become far less likely to prioritise going out for a weekly food shop, to exercise/go to the gym, and find ourselves falling into a trap of convenience.
Social media has undoubtedly become more of a fixture as we’ve moved in and out of lockdowns and towards some sense of normalcy, yet with that, comes a likelihood to spend more money on purchases we know we don’t necessarily need.
(We’re looking at you, breadmaker!)
This may seem insignificant or trivial, but financial wellbeing is a huge aspect of our overall wellbeing.
Why do employers need to address financial wellbeing?
Undoubtedly, wellbeing has been on the workplace agenda like never before – financial wellbeing should be included also.
Covid burnout isn’t an isolated issue. It speaks to the difficulties many employees are having around adjusting to new working models and they are suffering from burnout (and poor financial wellbeing) as a result.
Worrying about finances has a negative impact on our mental and physical health, which will considerably affect our ability to work.
Despite the fact that many employers know the impact Covid-19 has had on financial wellbeing, 49% still don’t have a financial wellbeing policy1.
What can employers do about financial wellbeing?
A commitment to addressing financial wellbeing is an encouraging sign to employees simply because it acknowledges the impact that organisations have on their employees’ wellbeing.
It doesn’t have to be monumental – signposting to independent money and debt guidance is cited by CIPD as being a great first step.
This is why hybrid working models are such a key aspect of Covid burnout.
Many employees adjusted their spending for remote working, yet moving towards a mixture of remote and office work could throw this into disarray.
Here’s what your financial wellbeing policy should include:
- Targeted financial education around key milestones of working life, such as maternity leave.
- Committing to paying all employees at least the living wage.
- Signposting (online and in the office) financial wellbeing advice, including advice around pensions.
- Flexible working opportunities to allow greater work/life balance
These are just a few of the changes that can go a long way in curbing Covid burnout and improving financial wellbeing.
At a time when uncertainty still lingers around the workplace, employees will benefit now more than ever from knowing they have a helping hand, should they need it.
The ‘new ways of working’ don’t have to spell disaster
For the first time, workplaces across the UK are adopting a more flexible approach to working for employees in terms of hybrid working models.
Given that so many employees were working remotely for months during various lockdowns when they may never have worked remotely before, it’s unsurprising that more flexibility isn’t necessarily always a positive.
What organisations need to remember is that company culture isn’t just exclusive to the physical workspace anymore, it also applies to the entire organisation, which encapsulates those working remotely and those working in the office.
No matter the physical working environment, employers still have a duty of care for their employees, particularly during such stressful periods of time.
Covid burnout is likely to continue cropping up as employees continue going through ebbs and flows with their working situations, but they shouldn’t have to do this alone.
Mental health and wellbeing strategies are becoming more and more prominent, so it follows that financial wellbeing should be included as well.