Overwork Is Not a Strategy for Response to the Pandemic

Employees have been through more than a year of fatigue and trauma from the Pandemic. Workers are tired of being teachers, caregivers, cooks, housekeepers, and full-time employees. They are Zoomed out. Although we are not out of the pandemic woods just yet, now might be a good time to give people a break. Let them get some rest.

Last week, we celebrated National Library Workers Day. It was a day set aside to highlight the critical role library workers play in keeping our libraries running. The ALA-APA received more than 1,400 nominations for Stars in the ALA-APA Galaxy of Stars. People from all over the world extolled the virtues of their local library workers. I’m sure these employees appreciated the words of gratitude. However, I think library workers would also enjoy not being stressed and over-worked by managers and library directors who insist on providing more and more services to library users as they stretch their staff beyond their limits.

Many libraries have remained open during the pandemic. Others have allowed employees to work from home. Many work-from-home employees are concerned that their managers think they are not productive enough. As a result, according to a recent report, 44% of employees respond by working longer hours. Longer hours intensify stress and anxiety and result in employee burnout. The author of this article argues that “overwork and unrealistic deadlines are not a good business strategy.” It is also unhealthy for your employees’ well-being. The author suggests that managers can play a vital role in modeling and developing healthy work culture. Commenting that “this means giving people time off [and not making them feel guilty about taking the time], avoiding calls and emails on weekends and evenings, and just respecting the fact that every employee is overworked and stressed right now.” The author offers several points for managers to consider as we attempt to help employees build resilience, stay engaged, and avoid burnout.