According to a systematic review of 15 studies that analyzed the financial burden of work-related stress, the impact reaches much further than just the companies where stressed employees work at. In fact, it’s estimated that work-related stress costs society between $221m to $187 billion (yes, that’s billion, with a “b”).
Stress in the workplace is more prevalent than ever, and HR professionals are becoming increasingly mindful of the importance of preventing employee burnout. It can lead to decreased employee productivity and employee engagement, higher employee turnover rates, and lower morale.
To help manage burnout, you must be aware of warning signs and ready to take appropriate measures early on, whether it be providing therapy for employees or creating a more open dialogue on mental health. Read on to learn more about how to prevent employee burnout and promote job satisfaction in your organization.
1. Increase the conversation around mental health at work
Increasing the conversation around mental health at work is one way to help prevent employee burnout. Employees will feel more comfortable discussing their struggles and getting help when needed when you encourage open dialogue about mental health issues.
Expert tip: Make sure there’s a known policy around dialogue about mental health issues and be sure to provide resources for support.
2. Provide free mental health resources
Free mental health assistance, such as virtual counseling or self-help literature, can benefit anyone uncomfortable discussing their concerns with co-workers or supervisors.
Expert tip: Invest in mental health services like Talkspace to aid in preventing burnout before it starts.
3. Encourage employees to use their PTO/vacation days
Encouraging employees to use their paid time off (PTO) or vacation days is another great way to prevent burnout before it starts. Allowing workers some downtime away from the office helps them recharge mentally and physically, which reduces workplace stress levels and improves productivity when they return to work.
Expert tip: Allow (and encourage) staff members to use their PTO or vacation days. Create a rotating schedule where employees can sign up for personal days to relax, catch up on outside-of-work responsibilities, take a day trip, or do anything that’s not work-related so they can decompress and refresh.
4. Give employees flexible work arrangements
Providing flexible work arrangements like remote working options or part-time hours gives employees more control over how they manage their workloads without sacrificing the quality of output — an essential factor in avoiding job burnout.
Expert tip: Reduce job demands by creating flexible work schedules. For example, offer regular or occasional work-from-home days, or allow for flex schedules like a 4-day work week to improve the employee experience.
5. Establish mental health days
Mental health days can prevent exhaustion and optimize at-work performance. Encourage employees to take time off for activities like yoga classes or massage therapy sessions. This will help reduce stress levels and foster positive well-being in the workplace — two essential elements in preventing employee burnout.
Expert tip: Establish dedicated “mental health days” where employees can take time off for anything they want, penalty-free.
6. Offer therapy in your employee assistance programs
Investing in mental health services such as Talkspace can be hugely beneficial for preventing employee burnout. Talkspace offers various solutions for employers who want to prioritize employee mental health and well-being. It can be a real game-changer to provide therapy for employees, too. In 2022, Talkspace partnered with The Harris Poll to conduct an Employee Stress Check survey of more than 1400 people. The results were astounding.
- 53% of the people who responded felt burned out at work
- 33% said work stress affects their overall happiness
- 51% of people who quit their jobs cited burnout as a factor in leaving
While these results seem daunting, there is hope. 66% of the people surveyed said access to mental healthcare would make a difference to them.
Expert tip: From providing on-demand counseling sessions with licensed therapists to offering group therapy sessions for teams or departments, Talkspace delivers a comprehensive approach to helping organizations prevent burnout before it happens.
7. Monitor bandwidth & workloads regularly
Regularly monitor bandwidth and workloads to identify any potential signs of employee burnout before it reaches a critical point, which could lead to burnout if left unchecked.
Expert tip: Make reviews a regular part of your company culture. Check-in with employees and have an open door policy so people feel comfortable and compelled to let you know when things are becoming unbearable. Prioritize offering help before it’s asked for.
8. Allow employees to set reasonable boundaries
Allowing staff members to set reasonable boundaries — for example, expectations on response times for emails/calls during non-working hours — can prevent employees from feeling overwhelmed by excessive demands outside of work.
Expert tip: Set reasonable expectations for yourself and your team to prevent overworking or taking on too much responsibility. In addition, ensure that you allocate sufficient time for leisure, self-care, and recuperation.
9. Train managers
Research shows that 60% of people have either left a job or are willing to leave one over a bad manager. Train managers on how best to handle difficult conversations about things like performance issues. Make sure they know how to respond to potential employee fatigue and burnout. This ensures that both parties understand each other better while helping reduce feelings of resentment.
Expert tip: Implement leadership training initiatives that recognize and address burnout. Ensure anyone in a leadership position is aligned with company policy regarding mental well-being and the importance of work-life balance.
10. Help employees craft goals they’re passionate about
Lack of growth opportunity is one of the top five causes of stress in the workplace, according to research done by Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Helping employees create growth and advancement goals to work towards can be both motivating and satisfying. Set clear goals so everyone knows what to expect and what they’re working toward. When organizations explicitly identify core value props — what they do well — they can remain focused. The same philosophy can apply to employees.
Expert tip: Teach management how to use exercises like The Hedgehog Concept to help employees realize success. The activity helps employees identify what they’re passionate about, what they’re best at, and what drives their success.
11. Foster positive culture & social interaction
Creating a positive work environment is vital to preventing employee burnout. Employers should equip their staff with the necessary resources, offer timely support when needed, provide constructive feedback regularly, and allow for regular breaks. Additionally, allowing social breaks at frequent intervals throughout the day helps alleviate stress levels, increasing productivity overall.
Expert tip: Foster a more positive atmosphere by dedicating resources to employees’ mental well-being, encouraging company-wide team-building activities, and planning social engagements for people to engage in a low-stress, positive environment.
Prevent employee burnout by investing in mental health
Employers should prioritize mental health and take preemptive measures to avoid burnout and high turnover rates. With Talkspace, you can offer a comprehensive suite of services supporting employee well-being. By taking this step, you protect your most valuable asset — your people — from the damaging effects of stress in the workplace while creating an environment where productivity is maximized and morale remains high.
Take active steps towards burnout prevention by offering mental health services and therapy for employees with Talkspace. Isn’t it time that you take the initiative and invest in your team’s well-being today?
- Hassard, Juliet, Kevin R. Teoh, Gintare Visockaite, Philip Dewe, and Tom Cox. “The Cost of Work-Related Stress to Society: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 23, no. 1 (2018): 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000069. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Focp0000069.
- “Your Best Employees Are Leaving. But Is It Personal or Practical?” Your Best Employees Are Leaving. But Is It Personal or Practical? | Randstad USA, August 28, 2018. https://www.randstadusa.com/business/business-insights/employee-retention/your-best-employees-are-leaving-it-personal-practical/.
- Wilkie, Dana. “What Managers Can Do to Ease Workplace Stress.” SHRM. SHRM, April 11, 2020. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/how-managers-can-help-stressed-workers-.aspx.