Addressing Covid Fatigue

Shawnee Love   •  November 28, 2020

8 months into mass awareness of the pandemic here in Canada, and as predicted, cold and flu season has brought a surge in Covid transmissions. Provincial governments are stepping up their health orders and guidelines in an attempt to prevent sick people from overwhelming our healthcare system and ultimately dying of COVID.

We know a little more than we did in March and hope for a vaccine in 2021 means light down the tunnel, but these orders and guidelines again are restricting movements, interactions and behaviours of residents and all organizations operating within each province.

And people are tired. Tempers and patience are short. Tolerance is eroded.

Obviously, it sucks to get COVID, but for people who haven’t (or have and didn’t know it), Covid Fatigue has set in.

So many people (including people in your organization) are like those frogs in a pot of water where the heat has been gradually turning up for the last 8 months.  The temperature is still climbing.

As a leader, turning down your own heat is first priority because you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Get off social media for awhile. Take a walk outside. Wear your mask, face shield and gloves if you want but get outside and away from the noisy, suffocating fear which is spilling over online.  Look and smell and hear and be reminded that birds still fly, wind still blows, babies are still being born, and sadly, people are still dying (most of causes that have nothing to do with COVID).

When you come back into your organization (probably still feeling a bit overwhelmed by the new orders and the fear in the eyes of your staff about simply being at work), you will hopefully feel refreshed enough to revisit those covid plans and work with your staff on how to keep them safe.  Once the plans are ready and rolled out, you can turn your attention to the fatigue people are struggling with.

Leaders, be visible. Model the healthy behaviours necessary to avoiding boiled frog syndrome, and keep communicating, caring and cheering on.

Communicate where the organization is at, where it is going, what it is doing to get through the pandemic, etc. because this kind of communication provides confidence and stability, lifelines in these uncertain times.

Care by doing regular check ins with employees about their mental health. Good questions are:

  • How are you doing overall?
  • What do you do to take care of yourself each day?
  • What is stressing you out?
  • What could we do to help?

Even if what the employee needs isn’t within the leaders’ power, having someone to talk to and feeling like they care reduces the “heat”.

Cheer your people on with reminders that we are in the back half of this horrible marathon of a pandemic.  We all want to make it to the finish line and celebrate on the other side which means working together and putting one foot in front of another.

We are all in this together and by working together we can finish strong.