How to Be Kind in an Understaffed World

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It’s no secret that the world is running on fumes: COVID-19 is wearing on, essential workers are overworked, and adjusting to the pandemic “normal” is taking its toll on mental and emotional health. You may have noticed a surge in understaffed businesses and increasingly burned out employees; economists are even calling it the Great Resignation of 2021. In such an overburdened and exhausted society, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to help.

The good news and short answer is: yes. If you have the bandwidth to help, even a small gesture can make a significant difference in somebody’s day! Many ways of expressing kindness are free, and even more can be done without a huge time-cost.

Before we dive in, however, it’s important to remember the concept of putting your own oxygen mask on first: make sure you’re in a position to help others by taking care of yourself first. If you think you may be feeling burned out yourself, first check out our article “What is Burnout, and 4 Tips to Combat It.” Alternatively, if you’re looking to tackle employee burnout within your own business, take a look at our article “How to Identify and Prevent Burnout at Your Company."

Now that you’ve done that, let’s talk about how you can help in the fight against burnout—in your everyday life, as a customer and consumer. 

 

Even now, there’s a prevailing stigma around burnout. Many people feel embarrassed to ask for help, especially if their work environments don’t support “slowing down,” and even more people are worried they’ll be seen as “less competent” if they admit to feeling burnout. Of course, this isn’t true: feeling burned out can’t be fixed with short-term solutions like a single day off work, but that doesn’t mean they’re less resilient or capable than anybody else. No single person can fix this stigma overnight, but your empathy and understanding can go a long way!

We’re all going through a tough time right now, so it’s important to give where you can. Here are a few easy ways you can be kind in an understaffed world:

1. Be patient.

It can be frustrating to deal with longer wait times, especially if you’re in a rush, but remember that many businesses are dealing with their own “new normal.” It’s likely that many places you frequent are now understaffed, which puts a much bigger workload on the employees that show up. If you have the time, accept the longer wait time graciously. If you don’t, that’s okay too: kindly explain your time constraints to see if there’s anything they can do for you (and understand if they can’t!). Next time, make sure to schedule more time in your visit to include the wait; it’ll be less stressful for everybody involved.

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2. Tip generously.

As places have begun reopening at whatever capacity possible, we’ve finally started regaining the luxury of going out. Whether it’s dining out for a good meal or dropping by a cafe for coffee, consider bringing enough money for a decent tip as well. More so than ever, we want to thank these employees for keeping these businesses running; we wouldn’t get to enjoy these experiences without their help.

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3. Say thank you, often.

This may seem simple and obvious, but it really is important to remember! Both recognition and appreciation are incredibly important for employees, especially in a time where most places are short-staffed. Think about how it feels when you get recognized or appreciated for your efforts: it can make a huge difference in your mood and productivity. Thank people frequently and sincerely, especially if you notice that they’ve been doing an amazing job.

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4. Speaking of people doing an amazing job: compliment employees for their hard work when you notice it.

If somebody is going above and beyond, don’t be afraid to tell them! Rewarding excellent work with recognition is a great way to both spread kindness and encourage further great service. In fact, at Hylite our mission is to make this process easier than ever: all it takes is a text. We strongly believe that boosting employee morale makes for a better experience for everyone.

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Fighting burnout with empathy doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming at all. Starting with these tips, we hope that the world can become a kinder place: one word, one person, and one experience at a time.