Leading Through Pandemic Exhaustion


Your employees are exhausted. You are exhausted. It is not just COVID-19 that is making everyone exhausted. Everyone appears to be on or near the edge. The consistent increase in daily stress is unrelenting this year. The 2020 election, no matter which side you are on, adds to the stress. Social unrest adds to the stress. The lack of social interaction, which is part of normal human behavior, adds to the stress. The never-ending sameness day in and day out, adds to the stress. Home schooling, for those with young children or caring for other dependents, adds to the stress. Insert your stress-inducing item here. It all builds up and creates an unstainable level of stress under the umbrella of pandemic exhaustion.

What to do? As leaders, it is important to address the elephant in the room. Share that you are feeling the same as your employees. Humanize and acknowledge the entirety of what people are facing these days. It is important as leaders to show your employees that you are not immune from what they are going through, you are too. If you ignore that elephant, you risk turning your employees into powder kegs waiting to go off at any moment, including yourself. Acknowledging these challenging times may relieve a bit of the stress or even provide a moment of comfort for your employees.

Use these strategies to help your employees and yourself lessen the impact of pandemic exhaustion:

  • Acknowledge and talk about what is going on in the world and their world. Create a safe space in your meetings or one-on-ones for people to share how they are feeling. Share how you are feeling.
  • Know that deadlines might be missed. Let your employees know that if they miss a deadline it is not the end of the world. Work with them to re-prioritize their deadlines.
  • Be realistic with expectations. Partner with your employees to map out a path for success knowing everyone is exhausted.
  • Mental health days. Remember back in the day when you might take a mental health day off? Encourage your employees and yourself to take a day or afternoon off once in a while to help de-stress.
  • Be kind to one another. These times require more understanding, patience, and compassion than ever. Resist jumping to conclusions or coming to premature judgments. Take a deep breath. Clear your mind. Take a step back and evaluate the situation from a place of empathy.

This will take work and energy. Yet, the results are worth it. Everyone will be able to release some stress and walk back from the brink. Remember, all of this is temporary. As all things in life are.

If you would like help to implement these strategies and relieve some of this pandemic exhaustion, please reach out!