Some compare post-Covid syndrome to burnout. States of exhaustion, reduced performance and resilience, symptoms of depression and anxiety – and nobody knows when you will be the same again. Advice from TÜV Rheinland for a triumphant return of Covid sufferers to work – for employees and supervisors.
Long Covid syndrome can significantly limit performance. Rheinland AGFor those who are lucky, Covid-19 is over after an infection has been overcome – with a mild course within one to two weeks. But around ten percent of people infected with the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 suffer from physical or mental impairments for at least four weeks after surviving the infection.
The clinical picture is called “Long Covid” or “Post-Covid Syndrome.” Many Covid 19 patients struggle for months with the consequential damage of the infectious disease, despite having survived hospital treatment. However, long-Covid can even occur in patients with a mild or even symptom-free course.
Post-Covid: These are typical symptoms
Long-Covid is a “disease after the disease” that parallels burnout syndrome. Typical are states of exhaustion (“fatigue”), shortness of breath, limitations in performance and activity, headaches, and loss of smell and taste. “However, the symptoms can be very diverse:
They range from coughing to depressive or anxiety symptoms, pain, concentration disorders, cognitive limitations to gastrointestinal complaints and dizziness,” explains Wiete Schramm, a specialist in occupational medicine at TÜV Rheinland.
Many post-Covid patients no longer reach their usual energy level.
Despite overcoming the primary illness, many of these patients do not quickly find their way back to their usual level of activity and performance. Depending on the severity, those affected have to approach tasks and move more slowly or can no longer carry out activities in their private life or work. Some even need help in everyday life. Company doctors from TÜV Rheinland advise those affected when returning to work.
Charité neurological post-COVID outpatient clinic publishes evaluation especially people with a mild course of Covid are affected by the post-Covid syndrome. This comes from assessing the neurological post-COVID outpatient clinic of… read.
Back to work: Avoid being overwhelmed
What do I have to watch out for if I want to return to my job as an employee with post-Covid syndrome? “Then it’s important that you don’t overstrain yourself,” says a patient information sheet from the TÜV. “Especially very performance-oriented people suffer twice:
They feel the physical and psychological limitations caused by the post-Covid syndrome and have to cope with the fact that they are no longer able to perform as well. At the same time, those affected cannot see their limited resilience, and they are often ashamed to talk about it.”
Tips for those affected by post-Covid at the new old workplace
“Certain stress management strategies can help people with the post-Covid syndrome to deal with stress better,” TÜV Rheinland continues. One way is to reflect on one’s attitude towards performance – if necessary, with the help of a therapist. The aim is to recognize and accept the limits.
But also, breathing, concentration and mindfulness exercises, meditation, physiotherapy, and sport can help alleviate the consequences of the disease.
Post-Covid job returnees: What supervisors should pay attention to
According to the TÜV, if employees with post-Covid syndrome return to their old workplace, managers are also asked: They would have to explore with those affected what tasks they could take on.
“If people with post-Covid syndrome exceed their stress limit, the symptoms can return more severely than before. So leaders need to have an open and constructive conversation upon return.”
Psychological counseling can help.
“Our workshops on healthy leadership address this topic, and we also advise managers individually on how to deal with these employees. In addition, it is helpful for those affected if they can reflect on their situation in an occupational psychology consultation,” explains Iris Dohmen.
As a psychologist at TÜV Rheinland, she advises companies and organizations in various sectors on occupational, psychological issues.
More severe cases: Employers must provide “occupational integration management.”
Suppose employees have to be declared unfit for work for more than six weeks within twelve months due to post-Covid syndrome. In that case, the employer must implement what is known as professional integration management (BEM). Experts from TÜV Rheinland support companies and those affected in this process. In this way, it is possible to bring employees back to work slowly and adapt the workplace to their needs.
Post-Covid: Multifaceted disease needs interdisciplinary therapy
The post-Covid syndrome has many faces and symptoms – physical and psychological. “And a variety of effects on health and performance,” says TÜV occupational physician Schramm. Therefore, such a variety of complaints also requires appropriate therapy and rehabilitation inappropriately competent centers with an interdisciplinary range of therapies.