Post-pandemic exhaustion – how leaders deal with what’s next

October 12, 2021

As a result of the challenges brought about by working from home and various lockdowns, wellbeing became a mainstream management issue during the pandemic and this was one of the key trends identified in our recent white paper, Leadership in the Pandemic. Whilst a focus on wellbeing was certainly key for many leaders already, the pandemic really shone a light on the need for a wide-ranging approach to this issue.

This was important as everyone navigated unchartered waters throughout the pandemic and the accompanying emotions this created, including fear and anxiety. This increased focus on wellbeing will also be absolutely essential for businesses to navigate what we believe is coming next: a motivational crisis. As we explore in our report, after 18 months of lockdowns and personal freedoms stripped away it will be difficult for many to have the energy to beat the ‘blah’ and leaders need to think about how to re-engage and re-motivate burnt out workforces, not to mention the risk of burnt-out leaders and their need for support from their mentors.

We saw the importance of support for these leaders when we delivered a pro bono mentoring programme for a group of 40 NHS and Emergency Services leaders from Hampshire & Isle of Wight and Frimley Integrated Care Services in March. No-one has worked harder than the NHS over the last 18 months and the goal with our programme was to support these leaders under extremely high-pressure conditions and to provide space to reflect on key learnings and opportunities for positive change arising from the crisis caused by the pandemic.

Despite the extraordinary demands of the pandemic, it was an incredibly galvanizing experience for some. Laura Rothery, Divisional Director, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘It’s been one of the most amazing years in my career-exhausting and challenging but also incredibly productive. We stepped out of our organisational hierarchy and there was a feeling of doing things for the greater good.’

Indeed, the sense of urgency created by the pandemic often empowered managers and clinicians to cut through bureaucracy and focus on how best to give care.

This sort of intervention is essential for leaders to pause, reflect and think about how their learnings from the past 18 months have shaped their leadership styles, what the new world of work looks like and how to navigate this new landscape – not to mention thinking about the challenges for staff who may also be feeling unmotivated or simply exhausted. Simply ploughing on and attempting ‘business as usual’ will result in burnout – especially when the world of work for many businesses now looks very different. It’s the sort of work Merryck is well-known for. We like to get alongside leaders and really understand their challenges, and using the experience of our mentors, offer practical and workable solutions.

We work with individuals and businesses at any point in their journeys, but particularly at critical moments of transitional change – and given what’s happening in the world right now, it’s no wonder our offering is resonating so well with the marketplace.

To read more about how the pandemic has impacted wellbeing at work and leadership styles, read our report here.


About Merryck & Co.

Merryck & Co. has been helping organisations for 20 years accelerate the impact of leadership. Merryck & Co. is a global firm of experienced CEOs and top business leaders who bring an operator’s lens to executive development. Their services focus on succession, senior leadership development, strategic enterprise transformation, and emerging leadership development. The firm’s clients include some of the most successful executives within the highest-performing companies in the world, boards of directors, and select teams of individuals.

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