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Isn’t it Time Employers Supported Employees Mental Health?

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.”

Agreed.

Jean L. Seriohttps://www.getyourbuzzon.com/
JEAN is a certified Human Resources professional with more than twenty-five years of experience in recruitment, interviewing, job training and development, resume, and LinkedIn Profile writing and review. The last 5 as a Certified Interview Success Coach, CEIC. With a passion for training, she guides others in first understanding their skills and strengths and how to best present themselves during an interview to help them secure the job. Her skills and expertise are also utilized to optimally prepare clients for confidently engaging with HR, hiring pros and decision-makers, and guiding them in how to enthusiastically and professionally respond during an interview rather than fearing the process. Her solid experience, coupled with expertise in the unspoken workings of the interview and hiring process, helps individuals prepare to present their achievements, skills, and expertise not only in a professional but compelling, way using stories of achievements which help the interviewee engage the interviewer or hiring a pro to effectively respond to questions to help raise their get-hired opportunities. Jean has been featured in Forbes; business.com; BLR-Daily HR Advisor; ERE’s Daily HR Advisor; Next Ave. division of PBS; Medium; Entrepreneur HQ Magazine; Self Growth; beBee International, CBS, and NBC online and more. Her past has also included workshop trainings for HR, hosting hiring forums, speaking at job conferences for both job seekers and hiring pros, and more.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Great article Jean. I agree with many of your points, but have a slightly different perspective. Regardless of the pandemic, I believe that we are a workaholic nation… at least in America. We spend far too much time keeping up the demands of production and maintaining career goals and not enough time with family or personal time. For me, work-from-home has been a blessing. Over the past 18+ months I have saved a small fortune on commuter fuel, not to mention wear-and-tear on my vehicle. I have five extra hours of time added back in my pocket each week, hours once spent sitting in mindless traffic. With those precious hours I have managed to get back into decent physical condition. Most important, I am more available to my family. I see them more and have a restored sense of connection. Is the job still demanding and challenging? Absolutely. Burnout still exists. If the government sees fit to increase minimum wage across the board, than perhaps they should also see fit to provide more PTO or mental health days. That simple humane gesture could be done regardless of political affiliation. Unfortunately, we are still whipped like middle-class horses for our hard-earned tax dollars. It’s sad. The cost of living continues to rise, the work force is ultra competitive, and inflation is killing us. That pressure alone is only adding to our sense of futility. Now add a pandemic and all of its trivial anxieties to that burden. It never ends. 🙏

  2. The need to review the Management of Stresses and effectively diverting the serious byproducts of stresses turning them to psychological wellness of employees with incentives , flexible effecient productivity , stresses of working hours , to make the workplace interesting under isolations online off line and off work place , management of high demands of work vs the respectful supply of effects of work with dynamic upgradation of skills and quality of work with that of psychological quality of the work force is an essential part of management that entails a Positive Outlook of employees and the management , motivation of the employees to maintain the smooth flow of the well being of the employees and the productive health of any organization with Care and Skills to prevent any kind of life disaster due to increased Natural Stresses caused by major hazards … Greatest disaster is psychological Pandemic Situation is due to weakness in negating the undue stresses …. The solution exists in your statement that demands high degree of training of minds ,upgrading psychological preparedness and toughening of the thinking machine with patience and concern – “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 of motivational support should be encouraged by the company.
    Excellent thought has evolved with your amazing article to suggest chanalising the energy patterns to readdress the issues of psychological burnouts and their ramifications … Thank you very much for your kind thoughts expressed in the article …

  3. We can’t look at the WFH pattern of the pandemic in isolation – so many people have had multiple stressors reinforcing each other: Home schooling, worry over elderly parents, general anxiety related to the pandemic (not unreasonable), uncertainty about what and how to do WFH 100%,…

    Looking at this list and AT THE SAME TIME seeing increased productivity tells something about how afraid workers have been of being accused of not working when the supervisor couldn’t supervise.
    So that is the corner stone for burnout: Do you trust your employer and do they trust you?

  4. Reviewing the surveys data reveals the intensive issue of employees burnout and that it has reached an alarming level.

    Thank you Jean for providing many data from different resources to highlight the intensity of this problem.

    Your recommendations on how to allviate this problem make sense. The cost of burnout as the data show are escalating beyond control. Now, is the time for giving serious concern to this problem.

    • Thank you for your valuable comments, Ali Anani. I was also shocked to discover the stats regarding this problem. Agreed, it has reached an alarming level and about time companies began taking action to deal with it. Plus, it’s clear the necessity exists for including plans/programs which offer help to employees who desperately need it. Perhaps this is the turning point when companies accept they are part of the problem.

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