5 Ways Meaningful Connections Prevent Work Burnout
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The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a range of stressors for the world over and worsened long-standing feelings of work burnout. Forward-thinking companies must proactively address these stressors and offer meaningful support to exhausted employees.
Most recently, employees have had to balance their primary jobs with other responsibilities and challenges, such as schooling children at home, dealing with the underlying stress of the pandemic, navigating mental health issues, managing financial uncertainty, and much more.
Work burnout puts employee personal well-being at risk and also harms their job performance. To innovate, employers can support their workforce with the latest employee assistance program (EAP) offerings and other measures to help manage their well-being now and in the future.
A Closer Look At Work Burnout
HR Executive defines burnout as "when people are highly engaged over a long period of time without the personal skills and organizational support to maintain their well-being." This can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental and physical health issues, as well as absenteeism and reduced performance at work.
Mental Health America found that even before the pandemic, more adults were experiencing mental illness, including anxiety and depression. But in 2020, the number of people looking for help with anxiety increased 93% from 2019. Numerous surveys have also found an increased need to address behavioral health issues, whether related to work burnout or not — a need that will persist beyond the pandemic.
5 Empathetic Steps To Help Prevent Burnout
Reimagining your benefits and how they're promoted can build trust and support the long-term overall health of your employees. Here are five ways your company can aid your employees with burnout or help prevent them from getting to a critical point.
1. Promote Mental Health And Substance Use Disorder Services
Create a work culture where caring for mental health is encouraged, not stigmatized. Connect employees to therapists, grief counselors, or substance use disorder services, which are often included in an EAP. Cover virtual care visits in your insurance plan to increase access to behavioral health providers, too.
Mental health and substance use disorder services are critical in this era. Provide solutions and personalized guidance that simply and effectively connect your employees to the services they need — before they're most needed.
2. Offer Flexible Schedules And Working Arrangements
Some employees thrive when working from home, whereas others prefer the office. Some have elderly parents to care for or children with special needs. With changing school schedules, caregiving duties, and public health mandates, most employees seek out flexible working schedules. One survey by Bloomberg found that 39% of respondents would quit their jobs if their employers didn't offer flexible schedules (rising to 49% among millennials and Gen Z). When you enable employees to work around their personal demands, you show empathy and recognize all the roles they play outside of work.
3. Encourage A Healthy Work/Life Balance
An Indeed survey on employee burnout found that more people working virtually felt like burnout had worsened during the pandemic than people who worked on-site. Working virtually makes it hard for your employees to unplug, so encourage them not to check emails or work outside of agreed-upon work hours via a formal policy. Encourage your employees to use their time off, too.
It's critical to prioritize work/life balance from the top down. Management sets the tone for other employees, so model the behavior you want to promote.
4. Conduct Regular Wellness Check-Ins
Keep tabs on your employees by checking in with managers to look for signs of burnout. Gauge productivity and employee engagement at regular intervals, both formally (e.g., a weekly meeting with a manager) and informally (e.g., chatting while grabbing a coffee). Provide wellness tips via an email newsletter or all-company meetings with reminders of the services employees can access through their health plans.
5. Provide Broader, Meaningful Support With An EAP
An EAP provides real-time support to your employees for many of the day-to-day stressors or concerns they face. Traditionally, an EAP might include a behavioral health provider to offer mental health services to employees. Today, they include a full spectrum of support, such as help with childcare and parenting concerns, coping with traumatic events, managing financial and legal problems, and easing stress from work and life changes.
Strong connectivity between core medical benefits and an EAP can bridge gaps in care, providing holistic, whole-person care for you employees. Be sure your employees know how to access these services when they're needed.
Implement Solutions That Enable Proactive, Personalized Employee Wellness
Recognize your employees' personal and professional needs to help prevent burnout and mitigate existing stress. Giving them access to necessary support services, as well as being flexible with scheduling, allows them to find the right care at the right time.
Although not the only method, an EAP might be the best option to proactively connect individuals to care in simpler, more effective, and more affordable ways. By offering an EAP, you're not only supporting employees' personal concerns before they grow into larger issues, you're also investing in the future of your business.