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One in three is burning out – What can employers do to reverse this trend?


By Peter Ayres, Alight Research and Advisory Center
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what employers can do to reverse employee burnout

A while ago, I wrote a blog on employee burnout and how it’s one of the scourges of our modern working life. Following the publication of the Alight 2022 International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset Study, we can now quantify just how widespread and serious the problem of employee burnout is.

It found that across the U.S. and Western Europe, 73% of employees rate their current stress levels as ‘moderate’ or ‘high’. The impact is felt worse in Germany where 8 in 10 workers reported feeling stressed, anxious, or even fearful at work.

It found that across the U.S. and Western Europe, 73% of employees rate their current stress levels as ‘moderate’ or ‘high’. The impact is felt worse in Germany where 8 in 10 workers reported feeling stressed, anxious, or even fearful at work.

Work-related stress is when the pressures of work become more than you can cope with. It can make you feel ill both physically and mentally. Recognising the signs of work-related stress and dealing with it quickly can mean it will have less negative impact. Source BUPA.

A significant proportion of respondents from all countries surveyed said they felt unable to control their stress. In France, nearly two-thirds (73%) were struggling and in the U.S. just under half (47%). Overall, more than one in three employees (34%) said they were experiencing at least one symptom of burnout.

If unchecked, sustained levels of employee stress and burnout are proven to result in debilitating mental illness and wreck lives and careers – and by default, businesses. And no one is immune.

Just one in three (34%) respondents to the Alight Mindset Study felt their company ‘cares about their wellbeing’. Even when processes were in place, only 23% had utilised stress management program in the last 12 months.

If unchecked, sustained levels of employee stress and burnout are proven to result in debilitating mental illness and wreck lives and careers – and by default, businesses. And no one is immune.

Just one in three (34%) respondents to the Alight Mindset Study felt their company ‘cares about their wellbeing’. Even when processes were in place, only 23% had utilised stress management program in the last 12 months.

In the past year, “an inability to sleep” was reported by 51% of respondents and was the most common issue. Anxiety/panic attacks (29%), illness or physical injury (21%) poor nutrition (29%) and increased use of tobacco or alcohol (18%) were other impacts of stress recorded.

How can employers help employees with stress management?

The aim of the Alight 2022 International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset Study is to give an insight into the mindset of employees in the U.S. and Western Europe and highlight areas where employers’ focus should be.

To help companies understand how to benchmark employee wellbeing and then improve and optimise the overall work experiences of those working for them.

How employers can help employees with stress management

With this knowledge, companies can start to put effective employee wellbeing programs in place. According to the report, of those people who had used stress management tools, 93% rated it valuable, the highest rating of all employee assistance programs.

 

Over a third of employees want their employers to offer mental health resources: things such as awareness education program, through mindfulness apps and mental health support helplines or groups can all be implemented with minimal fuss, as there are many offerings available.

 

This suggests that employer-sponsored stress management programs deliver value when employees are aware of them and use them. Clear and frequent communication of these offerings will be key as part of a change management program to ensure an organisational cultural shift to employee stress management.

This suggests that employer-sponsored stress management programs deliver value when employees are aware of them and use them. Clear and frequent communication of these offerings will be key as part of a change management program to ensure an organisational cultural shift to employee stress management.

Stress management programs are designed to promote overall wellbeing by providing employers and employees with tools to prevent and reduce workplace stress.

Continuous performance management is the supervision of an employee's performance via one-on-one discussions and ongoing feedback from supervisors during regularly scheduled check-ins.

The data also indicates that managers and HR teams need to engage with employees and focus efforts on helping employees find ways to cope. Suggestions include making wellbeing check-ins part of the continuous performance management (CPM) process.

Why is mental health and stress management critical to employee wellbeing?

Regression analysis of the survey results showed that managing mental wellbeing and stress are the number one drivers of employee wellbeing overall.

The message is clear: if an organisation wants a happy, productive workforce employee wellbeing should be at the core of people management. This means not only must

Mental health and stress management are critical to employee wellbeing

supportive programs be provided, but a cultural shift needs to happen to make employees and managers aware of the risks and mitigations that must be adopted.

This is not always a straightforward change. Company cultures can be well entrenched and difficult to change, but this is essential as addressed in my previous blog on the risks of employee burnout.

A partnership between employee and employer needs to be forged for a culture of openness and understanding to flourish. Behaviours that compromise mental wellbeing should be highlighted and rejected.

Peter Ayres (GB)
Peter Ayres (GB)
By Peter Ayres

Having lived and worked in the UK, Hong Kong, China, and the Netherlands, Peter brings insights of the challenges and opportunities diverse environments, and work cultures bring to the HR and change projects he delivers for national and international organizations. Peter has worked in HR transformation since 2008 and is experienced across the spectrum, from initial design, through analysis, planning, implementation, and embedding.

Prior to joining Alight, Peter worked for Shell, Reckitt, the UK National Health Service (NHS) and International Baccalaureate Organization.

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