Workers are feeling the burn, and not at the gym. They’re burning out psychologically, causing them to lose motivation, lose productivity — and sometimes lose the desire to stick around. In fact, turnover rates tend to increase when team members don’t have mental health release valves.
Where is all this stress coming from? Although work-related anxiety was present before 2020, COVID made it worse. Setting up impromptu offices in kitchens, bedrooms, and basements was rarely fun, especially considering the circumstances.
Workers and employers were trying to absorb the social and political upheavals that affected nearly every community throughout the entire year of 2020. Add to that a general uneasiness, and you have a fairly good picture of why Deloitte says 77% of professionals have experienced burnout.
To their credit, company leaders are taking burnout seriously. After all, no business wants its people to be frazzled 24/7. Yet trying to figure out how to help anxious, worried, overworked staffers can be a daunting task requiring effort and thought.
Overcoming challenges to a healthier, less stressed workforce
Often, the job of reducing employee stress and stressors en masse lands in the lap of the HR department. However, HR teams have other responsibilities that demand attention. This leaves them scrambling to cobble together DIY stress reduction programs with varying degrees of effectiveness. Over time, workers may start to feel like all they can do is try to manage their discontent alone.
It’s a bleak picture, but it doesn’t have to stay that way for long.
Jill Winters, the CEO of Pathways at Work, believes her organizations’ programs can be part of the burnout solution. Offering various in-person and virtual courses, Pathways at Work promotes behavioral wellness through extensive education and support for companies and their employees.
“Right now, there’s a serious divide between what employees need and what employers offer when it comes to burnout,” Winters explains. “According to SHRM, nearly three-quarters of workers want their companies to support their mental wellness. Unfortunately, almost two-thirds believe their employer isn’t living up to those expectations. Pathways at Work can bridge this gap with its high-quality resources aimed at fueling a healthier work-life experience.”
Giving burnout the boot through dynamic programming
The Pathways at Work system features a two-pronged approach designed to help organizations lower the risk of widespread burnout.
Facilitate employee and leader discussions
The first approach is to facilitate employee and leader discussions around potentially stressful topics. These can include anything from coronavirus to racial injustice. By opening the door to honest dialogues, clinicians help de-escalate situations that encourage isolation, anger, exhaustion, and tension. Having safe spaces to talk about hot-button or difficult dilemmas frees employees from the need to remain “bottled up.”
Giving employees the tools to identify and solve
The second approach involves giving employees the tools to identify and deal with their uncomfortable or unexpected emotions. For instance, many workers are mired in a cycle of compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue occurs when people begin to absorb the emotions of others.
For leaders and team members with high emotional intelligence, compassion fatigue can happen quickly. Yet, it’s such an under-discussed topic that employees may not realize the signs or how to handle second-hand feelings. Plus, it’s difficult to conquer a negative emotion if its root cause can’t be pinned down.
Innovative programming shows the path
Again, this is where Pathways at Work’s innovative programming can help. Every program encourages learning and sharing among participants by balancing lectures and group activities. Consequently, workers learn to spot warning symptoms of compassion fatigue and other indicators of emotional distress.
Treating employees with genuine compassion and concern
Facilitating discussions and providing the correct tools work in tandem to improve cultural environments, restore a feeling of positivity, and nurture worker retention.
Says Winters, “Employees no longer want to punch a clock for an anonymous employer. They want to feel part of something bigger and want to feel like they’re important parts of the whole.
Providing consistent behavioral health training satisfies workers’ emotional needs and has widespread positive ramifications for organizations, too.”
Providing relief before crises
Solving the issue of worker burnout before it reaches crisis levels may not be easy, but it’s doable—and necessary. Organizations don’t have to move forward alone, though. Instead, they can link forces with providers like Pathways at Work and improve the collective health of their teams.
Taking the inititive to provide relief before there is a problem allays fears and contributes to positive outcomes. As a result, whole companies will maintain higher performing employees disencumbered by excessive anxiety, depression, and the burn resulting from unchecked stress.
Image Credit: george milton; pexels; thank you!