Zoom fatigue: How HR can help exhausted workers

Younger staff appear more susceptible to burnout

Zoom fatigue: How HR can help exhausted workers

Generation Z workers may be among the most tech-savvy, but even they aren’t immune to the exhaustion brought about by having excessive Zoom meetings throughout the workday. The number of younger employees who report psychological distress as a result of the phenomenon is pushing HR leaders to rethink the value of having frequent video conferences.

Nearly two-thirds of workers aged 18 to 24 said they experience mental and emotional stress from spending an “unprecedented amount of time in front of webcams during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a study from work productivity specialist Virtira.

Read more: Is it possible to separate work and personal life?

Findings showed a number of factors contribute to their distress. Among them, the fear of being embarrassed by activity in their home while they’re on video, the pressure to have their cameras on constantly, and all sorts of distraction from the movement and expression of other attendees.

“Employers need to shift their policies and have candid conversations with their teams about how many meetings they are having and how they feel about meeting on video,” said Virtira CEO Cynthia Watson. “As we move towards hybrid work models, virtual meetings with others aren’t going away – so employers have an opportunity to craft policies to improve well-being.”

Read more: Feeling the Zoom fatigue? Here's why those video calls are making you so tired

How can HR address the so-called “Zoom fatigue”? Researchers recommend the following:

Keep the video conference group small. Hold calls to connect employees in small groups, one-on-one meetings, or for the first few minutes of large meetings to break the ice. “Even in this context, many people are still uncomfortable with being on video, and managers and HR should work with them to determine root cause and adjust their work situation where possible,” the study said.

Let employees decide if they want to be on camera. “Training and communications need to be introduced to make staying off-camera a personal choice when possible. Even with policies, recognise that peer pressure is a key driver of camera use, especially in younger workers, even where it is not required by management or the organisation.”

Recognise the value of small talk – even when it occurs online. “Meetings are not a substitute for informal office chats or a ‘water cooler’. Businesses need to introduce and train managers and employees on the use of collaboration workspaces where informal updates can occur 24/7, synchronously, and asynchronously."

Keep the invites to a minimum. “Packing extra people into a call where they don’t need to be sucks time and productivity. Invest in good meeting notes with a meeting recording so they can quickly update themselves on what they need to know and have more uninterrupted work time.”

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