Workers Are Burned Out; Employers Can Help

AMERICAN EMPLOYERS are trying to meet their workers’ mental health needs as they struggle with burnout and stress, according to a new report.

The annual “Aflac WorkForces Report” found that more than 50% of American workers experience burnout in their workplace.

Additionally, 57% experience work-related stress, with heavy workloads the biggest stressor among young workers.

The survey results also showed that employees are struggling with their mental well-being, and that employers can help by providing their staff with mental health tools and resources.

The biggest stressor

Aflac noted that one of the biggest causes of stress and anxiety is unexpected medical expenses. Moreover, while many employees have financial resources to cover medical emergencies, the state of financial wellness among their workers remains fragile.

According to the survey, only 50% of workers can afford out-ofpocket expenses that exceed $1,000.

Not addressing burnout can reduce the quality of life for your staff and it could have downstream implications on your workforce — including diminished job satisfaction and work-life balance, as well as a high chance they’ll be looking for new work.

To ensure employee satisfaction and retention, employers can provide mental health tools and resources. Here are a few tips that can help with employee satisfaction, retention and recruitment.

Improve work-life balance

You can help workers maintain a balance between work and personal life. Dedicating an equal amount between the two eliminates burnout and stress. You can do this by offering:

  • Flexible work schedules. A flexible work schedule gives employees a sense of autonomy. Instead of the traditional 9-5, you can give them the freedom to choose specific hours they wish to work or allow them to work four 10-hour days, leaving one day for personal stuff.
  • More time off. One in three employees surveyed by Aflac ranked increased time off as their first choice for addressing burnout. More time off can be in the form of additional vacation time or “mental health” days.
  • Paid sick leave. Workers who have paid sick leave don’t feel obligated to go to work if they fear forfeiting pay.

Other ways to help

Provide an EAP — Employee assistance programs include free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services.

EAPs address a range of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems and psychological disorders.

Offer creative bonuses — Offer cash bonuses for exceptional work efforts. If you can’t afford cash bonuses, consider something like morning or afternoon off, vacation vouchers, gym memberships and free lunches, to name a few.

Encourage regular breaks — Many workers fail to take their breaks because they get too wrapped up in work, or out of fear they will look bad in front of their colleagues.

Provide supplemental insurance — Supplemental benefits include accident, critical illness, hospital indemnity, disability, cancer, life, vision and dental insurance. These are designed to complement medical insurance, particularly for workers with high deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses. Premiums for many of these benefits are quite affordable.