So much has been said about ‘burnout’, since the start of the pandemic and employees were mandated to work at home, it’s become part of the global description of the number one issue employees have experienced before the work-at-home saga began. Since that time, thousands of more employees have admitted to suffering from stress and burnout. To the point, companies are now discussing the possible need for employee benefits packages to be expanded in order to deal with these additional medical issues.
While health issues have continued to rise with the new responsibilities being heaped upon remote workers adding to their stress, one interesting aspect is that during this time productivity has skyrocketed.
Josh Bersin, president and founder of Bersin & Associates, a leading industry research and advisory firm in enterprise learning and talent management, says “This combination of stress and engagement creates an opportunity — and a responsibility — for employers to provide more support to their workforce. When the value of your work goes up, your company should be doing more to take care of you. HR people need to look very, very strategically at the benefits they offer.”
All that said, is it finally time for companies to include mental health in their health benefits plans? Most believe it’s long past time.
In a recent report developed through interviewing 1000 employees, worldwide, Delloite-Touche found:
- 77% have experienced burnout in their current job.
- 91% said unmanageable stress or frustration impacts their quality of work;
- 83% say it affects their personal relationships.
- 70% said they don’t feel their employers are doing enough to alleviate or prevent burnout.
Researchers at Stanford, when studying workplace stress, found U.S. workers are more stressed-out – than ever – due to work-related problems.
New research shows stressors – such as long hours along with high demands, cause approximately 120,000 deaths a year. Not to mention $190 billion in health care costs.
What can companies do to help prevent or alleviate work burnout?
1) Consider offering alternative benefits packages – packages which cater to those looking outside traditional employment scenarios such as remote work.
2) Have an effective educational or learning management system in place. Including upskilling and reskilling using on and off-line courses; paid college programs; certification programs; virtual or in-house coaching.
3) Allow more job flexibility during the workday. Including allowing employees the ability to set their own schedule.
4. Offer mental health days.
5) Provide access to greater medical resources and mental health providers both on and offline.
6) Provide benefits education for all employees. This can be done using email, newsletters, webinars as well as online materials. This signals employees that your mental health is important to the company. And, very importantly, you will not be stigmatized when seeking treatment. Also, using the benefit should be encouraged by the company.
7) Encourage employees to take time off.
8) 28% of those surveyed by Deloitte felt better health insurance was necessary.
9) Others suggested an increase in paid time off would better help support them.
Bottom line: Companies recognizing the need for mental health benefits has been a long time coming. And may have taken far longer to expose if the pandemic hadn’t parked itself on our doorstep.
“Maybe we shouldn’t even be calling them ‘benefits,’” says Swapnil Prabha, Unum’s Vice President of Digital Offerings. “Because they really are essentials”. Says Prabha – “When we get mental health parity in terms of lowering the stigma and having good, open, fact-based decisions, that’s when I think we really start to change the game when it comes to issues of mental health.”