3 Tips to Prevent Employee Burnout


Millennials have been named The Burnout Generation. Over the past decade, the portion of young adults who experience mental health disorders has increased significantly. 

Trends suggest a generational association with increased experiences of mood disorders rather than an increase across ages. Nearly three-in-four Generation Z employees have left a job for mental health reasons according to a 2019 report by Mind Share Partners. 

The average economic cost to a company of highly-skilled employee churn is 213% of the cost of one year’s compensation for that role according to the Center for American Progress. Moreover, a study conducted by Business Group on Health found that $16.8 billion in productivity is lost as a result of employees taking days off work due to mental health conditions.

As workforce demographics shift to integrate the growing candidacy of Generation Z, employers will face the challenges of increasing employee burnout. 

To avoid the costly consequences of employee burnout, businesses can integrate several measures:

  1. Talk about mental health
  2. Implement policies that support employee wellness
  3. Include employees in decision-making processes

Businesses should implement initiatives to combat employee burnout specifically, fostering a more productive workforce and company growth.

1.Talking About Mental Health Creates a Comfortable Workplace

Businesses should encourage open communication about mental health in the office to retain talent. 

A study conducted by Mind Share Partners found that the majority of workers (86%) consider an office culture that supports mental health to be important. Unfortunately, employees are twice as likely to provide support for a colleague’s mental health than discuss their own challenges according to the same research. 

Harvard Business Review found that nearly 60% of employees have never spoken about their mental health status at work. Despite that reductions in employee health risks results in higher engagement and productivity, less than half of workers reported that mental health was prioritized and found company leaders to be advocates according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Unsurprisingly, employees are least comfortable speaking with their company’s HR and senior managers about mental health. 

To shift the cultural discomfort, business leaders must become visible allies. Companies should encourage leadership teams to share experiences of mental health challenges at meetings and in daily interactions with employees. 

By demonstrating a commitment to psychological well-being, executive teams, managers, and senior employees reduce stigma in the workplace.

As employees most want cultural change, businesses should model disclosure to create a more open and accepting workplace.

2.Implement Policies that Support Employee Wellness

Businesses can develop and execute policies to support wellness in the office, decreasing instances that stress employees’ mental health.  

Generally, a workplace mental health policy includes a vision statement, a statement of values and principles, and a set of objectives. 

A vision statement describes the future of mental health in the office. As it stipulates the expected outcome of a policy, businesses should aim high when crafting the statement.

A statement of values creates the foundation for developing objectives and strategies. Whereas values represent beliefs about what is deemed desirable, principles denote standards that direct actions. 

Objectives are actionable statements of what is to be accomplished with a policy.  Businesses should create objectives as a response to identified issues and work to improve employees’ mental health. 

Key stakeholders should be determined early and involved in defining the mental health needs of the business. Throughout the policy development process, these employees should be engaged.

Professional consultants or health professionals can also be engaged to guide the process with valuable expertise.  

By involving employees in the process, businesses are more likely to implement the most desirable policies, which include:

  • Permanent flexibility: More than half of employees want their companies to offer more flexible work options. Telecommuting, modified schedules, and unlimited PTO helps reduce office stress and improves mental health. Flexibility supports a positive work-life balance to reduce burnout.
  • Wellness initiatives: Employers should offer more mental health days, opportunities for stress relief, and opportunities for physical activity. Wellness challenges, standing desks, and meditation programs are other options available for employers to improve employee’s mental health.

Simple solutions such as flexibility and initiatives can supplement a broader mental health policy to help businesses maintain healthy and productive employees.

3.Include Employees in Decision-Making Processes

Businesses can capitalize on valuable insight and fresh ideas by involving employees in decision-making processes. 

By making decision-making a one-way process – where managers give orders for employees to execute – workers will become frustrated eventually.

Asking employees how a process can be improved not only benefits businesses but also employees. When employees help make decisions, managers demonstrate their trust in them. 

By promoting dialogues, leaders show that they value workers’ opinions. This exchange also creates opportunities for greater innovation. With more access to information and different perspectives, better decisions can be made. 

As the individuals who manage day-to-day operations, employees know what clients and services need. They likely have ideas as to how they can get their job done better and faster to generate revenue and save money.

When employees are a part of making or improving a process, they are more likely to feel responsible for its success. Involving staff in decision making promotes ownership, which can make a business stronger. 

Businesses do not have to implement employee suggestions. However, it is important that leadership provides opportunities for employees to be involved in decision-making processes to mitigate detrimental frustration and foster engagement.

Mental Health is an Essential Component to a Successful Workforce

As more young adults enter the workforce, businesses will need to address the growing prevalence of employee burnout to maintain talent. 

While most employees have experienced negative mental health symptoms at work, most do not talk about these experiences with managers. Employees want cultural change including mental health training and resources to support their wellbeing. 

Business leaders have the greatest impact on office culture. As such, it is important that leadership should encourage disclosure and normalize the topic of mental health in the office. 

This encourages employees to discuss their experiences with managers, reducing the risk of employee turnover as problems can be addressed earlier.

Policies that support employee wellness can mitigate the stressful stimuli that foster burnout. Even small changes such as flexible hours can make a significant, positive impact on workforce wellbeing. 

Employees have valuable first-hand knowledge of processes. By including employees in decision-making opportunities, businesses gain critical insight that can improve processes and employee wellness. 

Businesses need to take ownership of their employees’ well-being to change the detrimental culture that deprives them of optimal success.

Kate Russell leads HR and business consulting content for Clutch, the leading platform for B2B research, ratings, and reviews.

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