Employee at desk feeling stressed out

5 ways to help reduce employee burnout

Even before COVID-19, concerns about employee mental health—including burnout—were on the rise. After two years of isolation, financial worries, caregiver challenges, and increasingly blurred personal and professional lives, these concerns have coalesced into a crisis.

According to reports from Mental Health America and the American Psychological Association (APA):

  • Nine in 10 employees say workplace stress has affected their mental health.1
  • Four in five employees report feeling emotionally drained from their work—which can be an early sign of burnout.2

Employees who are burned out are:

  • 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job
  • 63% more likely to take a sick day
  • 23% more likely to visit the emergency room3

A culture of full health

There is some good news. Conversations about behavioral health are taking center stage, and employers are actively seeking ways to support their teams. However, burnout is not a worker problem. It’s a workplace problem, one that usually results from unmanageable workloads, role confusion, lack of communication/support from managers, and unrealistic deadlines.4

A recent whitepaper from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) outlines steps organizations can take to address employee burnout and build a new culture of full health. Here are some key takeaways.

  1. Educate your team
    Teach managers how to spot and mitigate burnout (it might not be as obvious as you think). Use educational campaigns and safe-space discussions to drive employee awareness. Promote available behavioral health resources.
  2. Be flexible and supportive
    Consider increasing paid time off (PTO), instituting more flexible work schedules, or even adding a mental health PTO day. And when it comes to using that time off, encourage employees to unplug and unwind—not answer emails or call in to meetings.
  3. Support the caregivers
    Whether they’re caring for children or older relatives, most employees don’t self-identify as caregivers. As a result, they are more likely to remain isolated (and stressed). By celebrating caregivers, you can help normalize their efforts and reduce any stigma employees might feel.
  4. Train empathetic leaders
    Three in five employees are not receiving adequate support from their supervisors to help manage stress, reports Mental Health America. Leaders and managers must learn how to listen and respond effectively. Plus, if these same leaders can share their own behavioral health struggles, employees will feel they’re not alone.
  5. Reward effort, not hours
    Burning the midnight oil every night isn’t something to celebrate. To reduce unmanageable workloads, start by clearly defining organizational priorities. When employees understand expectations, it becomes easier to manage work-life integration.

Learn more ways Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) can help you support your employees’ well-being. Visit our Healthier Workforce page or contact your account executive today.

Tara DeMoura
Tara DeMoura
Senior Vice President, Employer Segment