In the post-Covid workplace, compassion fatigue is an intangible threat. Resilience is your best defense.
While the distress of front-line medical professionals in the battle against Covid-19 has been extensively documented, those who provide for the well-being of employees in corporate America have grabbed fewer headlines.
Now, as we make our incremental return to the workplace, HR directors are face to face with a creeping scope of responsibility that includes shouldering the hardships of over-taxed employees, meeting recruitment goals in a competitive climate, and thwarting the reduced productivity trends of the Great Resignation.
On top of all of that, you’re contending with the 49 percent of employees surveyed by global staffing firm Robert Half who are flexing their muscles, angling for benefits like subsidized commutes, relaxed dress codes, and childcare underwritten by employers, among others1.
Be Mindful of Stress
It’s no wonder that this power shift has left you feeling caught. But with prolonged exposure to these stressors, you can develop a syndrome known as compassion fatigue, which can cause mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, preoccupation, irritability, headaches, head colds, gastrointestinal discomfort, and an exacerbation of compulsive behaviors like over-spending or over-eating.
But when your sympathy for others intensifies to the point that you are no longer merely relating to their situation but also deeply identifying with it, then you have likely neglected your own well-being. Empathy, which Mental Health America defines as “the ability to not only understand another’s feelings but also to become one with that person’s distress"2.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid compassion fatigue symptoms:
- Be kind to yourself. Accept your situation while resisting the urge to blame or berate yourself.
- Understand your feelings and give them names—worry, anger, fear, resentment, uncertainty, among others. Learn to articulate the causes or sources of these emotions and brainstorm about how you might begin healing.
- Give yourself a break (or two) at home, during the work day, over the weekend. Re-charging the battery is essential. Schedule an afternoon walk around the corporate campus or make a date for lunch outside the office.