Employee burnout is back with a vengeance. Why companies should care and four strategies they can use.
We’re sounding the alarm because according to several new reports, employee burnout and stress are at all-time highs.
More than half of American workers report they are currently experiencing at least moderate levels of burnout, according to Aflac’s 2022-2023 WorkForces Report.
While new research from Future Forum’s global survey revealed that over 40% of the worldwide workforce feels burned out — an all-time high since its tracking began in mid-2021.
Finally, 50% of employees say that work stress is impacting their personal lives, relationships with their family members and friends, and their relationships with themselves, according to Calm’s 2023 Workplace Mental Health Trends Report.
If there’s one human capital strategy that your company is considering tackling, employee burnout should be it because it’s costing businesses big — and we’re not just talking about money.
The Cost of Employee Burnout
From The Great Resignation to Quiet Quitting, burnout is the main perpetrator of the labor crises that have dominated organizations’ time, energy and resources for the past two years.
Burnout reduces productivity, sabotages retention, and increases absenteeism and presenteeism.
The workplace phenomenon also costs organizations between $125 billion and $190 billion annually in healthcare costs.
Lastly, employee burnout takes a toll on mental health at a time when companies lose $300 billion annually due to their employees’ mental health-related issues.
With the stakes so high, it will remain incumbent on business leaders to look for ways to reduce stress and support employee mental health. While there’s a never-ending array of advice and purported solutions, employers should focus on the aspects of burnout they have the most control over. Here are four strategies companies can employ to reduce stress and burnout.
Future Forum’s global survey results found that flexibility may combat the burnout trend.
Employees who are dissatisfied with their level of workplace flexibility are 43% more likely to say they feel burned out at work than those who are satisfied with their level of flexibility.
The survey also found that employees with rigid work schedules say they are 2.5 times more likely to “definitely” look for a new job in the next year compared with workers who have some ability to adjust their schedules.
2. Promote Work-Life Balance
Refrain from telling your employees you care about work-life balance. Instead, show them by investing in work-life benefits that will help them create harmony between the personal and professional.
Look for services and programs that make your employees’ day-to-day lives easier, whether through providing an emergency child care benefit, concierge services to manage everyday tasks and other to-do’s, professional laundry services, or lunch served at the office each day.
The key here is to look for clever ways to take non-critical tasks off your employees’ plates.
3. Mental Health Resources
The overwhelming majority (86%) of employees who report high levels of burnout also have suffered other mental health challenges in the past year — most commonly anxiety, depression and trouble sleeping, according to Aflac’s 2022-2023 WorkForces Report.
Mental health benefits can help address the underlying causes of burnout and provide resources for managing and coping with stress.
Companies can offer resources like employee assistance programs (EAPs), mental health counseling, and coaching programs that improve individual resiliency and adaptability.
Overall, prioritizing employee mental health is not only the right thing to do from a humanistic standpoint, but it is also a wise business decision that can lead to improved performance, reduced costs and a better work environment.
4. Foster a Supportive Workplace Culture
Foster a workplace culture that supports employees’ overall mental health and work-life harmony to keep burnout at bay.
In this case, change starts from the top and trickles down. Leaders and managers should lead by example by taking their mental health and work-life balance seriously and motivating their team members to do the same.
Encourage employees to take breaks, limit overtime and be mindful of workloads.
Promote open communication between employees and management to help break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues and work-life balance concerns.
Employee burnout is reaching a high that competes — if not supersedes — the rate of burnout during the pandemic’s height. Not only does this create conditions for another labor crisis, but it also costs organizations billions. By giving employees flexibility, supporting work-life balance, investing in mental health benefits, and fostering a supportive workplace culture, employers will increase retention, reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, and avoid significant physical and mental health-related costs.