Cook County courthouse - Photo by Rhonda Silence
Rhonda Silence

COVID pandemic adds new layer to ‘workforce burnout’ in Cook County

As the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have come and gone in Grand Marais and the county with the highest vaccination rate in Minnesota, many workers across the country are worn out and ready to make up for lost vacation time, a new report published by the Associated Press shows.

Nearly half of all professionals surveyed said they are more burned out on the job today compared to a year ago, up from 34 percent in a similar 2020 poll. Among those surveyed who are experiencing increased fatigue blame it on a heavier workload, the AP reports.

This nationwide study also fits a current narrative circulating throughout Cook County. From local government to small businesses throughout the community, a number of themes relating to burnout and workforce issues are being discussed by employers and employees. The topic surfaced during a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners July 13, including specific anecdotes relating to employee burnout at the county level.

Peaks and valleys are consistent realities for many business owners and employees who work in Cook County. Some businesses are open seasonally and rely on busy seasons to carry them through the entire year. The COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of complexity to the term ‘worker burnout,’ a phrase the World Health Organization categorizes as a reality, not just a theory. Though some employees were able to keep their jobs by working from home during the pandemic, recent studies are discovering that meant some had a hard time separating work from home, or that they simply worked too much. At the same time, a number of local employers are expressing frustrations about not being able to find enough workers during the summer of 2021. Add to that a shortage of workforce housing and it all adds up to a common thread: The complexities of living and working in Cook County can be exhausting.

During an interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs on July 14, Cook County Administrator James Joerke discussed this topic and other county news as the peak of summer arrives to the North Shore. The audio below is their full conversation.