Tips to Recognize and Manage Employee Crisis Fatigue

Crisis fatigue is real for us all. It is caused by an unrelenting wave of emotions like fear, anxiety and anger. Employers are struggling to create a strategy around crisis management for their employees. These emotions can lead people to feel emotionally numb or exhausted. As employers and people leaders are also suffering from some level of crisis fatigue, it can feel difficult for them to support others. In our recent webinar, How to Address Crisis Fatigue with your Employees, mental health experts provided tips in recognizing the symptoms of crisis fatigue as well as guidance to recover from these feelings and behaviors. Keep reading for those tips and resources. 

Signs someone is suffering from crisis fatigue: 

  • Disinterest in hobbies and activities. Take notice if an employee stops doing an activity they love (i.e. exercise, cooking). Losing interest in a hobby or activity is a major sign something has changed for that individual. 
  • Low to No Motivation. If an employee starts to have little or no motivation for work or activities that you know are really important, this can signal a check-in may be needed.  
  • Dietary/appetite changes. If you know an employee to eat a certain way (i.e. healthy meals) and now there has been a major shift toward unhealthy eating, they may be suffering from crisis fatigue. 
  • Sleep changes. When we’re stressed or fatigued, this can actually interrupt sleep patterns. When you’re not sleeping well, this can significantly impact other areas of life. Has your employee mentioned they are extremely tired or sleeping poorly? 
  • Feeling intense fear or worry. With a high level of uncertainty, fear and anxiety can raise to an unmanageable level. Fear about their own health, fear for their family, worry they aren’t performing at work – all of these can compound when we are in crisis. 
  • Personality changes. Is a once-outgoing employee now quiet in meetings or avoiding other co-workers? Is a more reserved teammate suddenly talking over others?  

Guidelines for Care Providers, Leaders and Employers

As a manager, employees look to you for support, guidance and resources, but what are your responsibilities when helping someone showing signs of crisis fatigue? Nicole Davis, LMHC, SUDP (Crisis Connections) gave the following guidelines to care providers, leaders and employers: 

  • Maintain consistent touch-points with employees. Employees need to feel supported and know their leaders are available. Along with consistent touch-points, Davis also recommends upper-management as a whole should be accessible, trusting, and welcome. 
  • Be curious. Approach conversations/discussions with a curious stance – more listening, less talking. Work to gain more information about what may be going on with your employee by asking open-ended questions. Ultimately, you want to be supportive and offer resources to help them if they are suffering. 
  • Make a self-care plan and encourage employees to do the same. This plan should include ways the employee is supporting the important aspects of their lives: physical, psychological, emotional, financial, occupational and spiritual.  
  • Encourage taking time off. Along with an individualized self-care plan, emphasizing employees to take breaks, use sick time when needed, and even request vacation time to prevent burnout. 
  • Build a culture of connection. In many workplaces, gathering around the water cooler or in a breakroom used to be the place where co-workers could connect on topics outside of work tasks and projects. Develop and encourage new ways employees can do this – through chat systems, virtual “meetings” where the agenda is not about work, and even making the space in team/department meetings to connect on a personal level and check in. 
  • Set boundaries. Being a manager does not mean you have all the answers and can solve all the problems. This doesn’t always feel like the case, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty. It is important to set boundaries with employees and teammates. 
  • Utilize a well-being program. A great way to prevent crisis fatigue is through a holistic approach to well-being. Learn more about how Aduro can support the mental health and overall well-being of your employees. 

For more tips and guidance in supporting employees, watch the webinar on-demand: How to Address Crisis Fatigue with your Employees.