Fatigued employees, no longer willing or able to go the extra mile, are ‘quiet quitting’ by working in a way that’s more present than productive.

Many employees have been stretched beyond their limits, with our Health at Work report revealing two-thirds (64%) have experienced fatigue and burnout. In response, many people are now ‘quietly quitting’ by turning up for work but doing the bare minimum required.

The trend has gained millions of followers, with employees sharing tips across social media on how to save their mental health by limiting tasks and not releasing discretionary effort.

Employers who want to re-energise and motivate their workforce need to urgently respond by helping employees find better ways of preventing overwhelm than disengaging from work. Here mental health counsellor, Prakash Solanki, shares five insights on how to go about this.

Five ways to help employees manage feelings of overwhelm

1. Acknowledge people feel exhausted

Whether due to covering for colleagues during the pandemic, unprecedented organisational change, new ways of working or juggling work and family, most people are exhausted. The past few years have taken a huge toll on the emotional wellbeing of employees, driving many to leave the workforce altogether and others to feel drained of energy and motivation.

“Simply asking people to carry on like this isn’t the answer,” says Prakash Solanki, mental health counsellor for PAM Wellbeing. “Prolonged exposure to pressure can lead to anxiety, depression, fatigue and even chronic medical conditions. So, it’s essential that workplaces recognise the pressure people have been under and the toll this has taken.”

2. Get managers to show they care

With less watercooler conversation available due to increased homeworking, it’s essential that managers schedule in time to show the caring face of the organisation, says Prakash: “Managers need to regularly check in with people on a one-to-one basis, to ask how they are, instead of just talking about work and deliverables.”

It’s important that employees feel safe admitting when they feel overwhelmed, so they can discuss ways to address this with their manager, says Prakash: “Many managers aren’t aware of the pressure their people are under, as they’re under a lot of pressure themselves. So it’s important they ask those they’re responsible for how they’re feeling and what would make the biggest difference to reducing their stress levels. Most people know which straw is breaking the camel’s back but need ‘permission’ to share this with their manager.”

3. Signpost to support

According to the Health at Work report, nearly one in two (47%) of employees who have access to wellbeing resources through work, feel very productive at work. So, make sure employees know about any support services in place. Also consider adding additional support services as needed, such as an Employee Assistance Programme, or mental health fatigue assessments, that allow people to talk to a trained counsellor about symptoms of fatigue and practical things they can do to reduce this.

That way, managers can signpost people to appropriate support, instead of feeling like they have to counsel employees. Not only will this make employees feel more cared for, but it will also make them more loyal. One in two (51%) employees given proactive help to stay healthy said they were less likely to want to work elsewhere, compared to just 6% of those given little or no support.

4. Help employees to boost resilience

Employee resilience, the capacity of individuals to thrive in high stress environments, isn’t about how much pressure they can take, but rather how well they can discharge that pressure. “Self-care is incredibly important for boosting mental health,” explains Prakash. “Often when we feel overwhelmed, we think we don’t have time to schedule in time with family and friends, exercise, take part in a hobby, or take a full lunch break away from our desk. Yet it’s more important than ever that we make that time for ourselves.”

“Encourage employees to think about what helps them to reduce stress levels and get managers to lead by example when it comes to talking about what they’re going to be doing this evening or weekend to unwind,” says Prakash. “Discourage the sending of work emails late at night, during the weekend or while people are meant to be on holiday. It’s essential that people have time to unwind and recharge. At the very least, if people working flexibly want to do this, make sure they add a note saying they don’t expect a response out of hours.

5. Normalise anxiety

A lot of overwhelm is caused by constant feelings of anxiety about what’s happening in the world, from the soaring cost of living to fears of a resurgence of the pandemic this winter. Keeping these feelings bottled up can make people feel emotionally overwhelmed and physically fatigued, so it’s important to normalise these feelings.

“The world won’t be going back to ‘normal’ anytime soon,” says Prakash. “So give employees the insights and tools they need to reduce intrusive thoughts. Inviting them to talk to each other about their daily concerns can help them realise they’re not alone in their worries. Encouraging them to limit consumption of negative news, and instead to listen to music, do things that give them joy, eat well, get enough sleep and take fresh-air-breaks have all been shown to reduce anxiety levels.”


How can PAM Wellbeing help?

Our comprehensive wellbeing services can help your people to avoid burnout and stay productive in the following ways:

Fatigue Prevention: Prevent burnout and reduce fatigue with a Mini Mental Health Fatigue Assessment for them to talk to an expert in confidence and get advice tailored to their situation.

Manager training: Educate managers how to proactively manage mental health and show the caring face of the organisation to boost employee engagement and productivity.

Wellbeing webinars: Train your people how to proactively manage their mental health and cope with issues ranging from anxiety to work-life balance with our online workshops.

PAM Assist EAP: Round-the-clock access to professional counsellors, health, legal and financial experts. Including digital access to expert health and wellbeing resources and CBT training.

“The Mini Mental Health Fatigue Assessment proved popular with colleagues and resulted in a 40% improvement in outcomes after colleagues were assessed again.”

Department for Work and Pensions

“Over 1,200 managers voluntarily signed up to attend the ‘mental health conversations’ training course, which was an incredible response.”

Marks & Spencer

For more information visit pamwellbeing.co.uk or email info@pamwellbeing.co.uk