Occupational stress and employee burnout remain an issue for HR. In fact, in the UK, sick days cost the economy £14bn annually while mental health illness and work-related stress is losing UK businesses 23.3 million working days, and is responsible for almost half of all absenteeism cases (48%).
Whether your people are feeling the effects of short term burnout or they are managing long term stress, this debilitating condition can have a devastating impact on a person’s mental, emotional and physical wellbeing at work – and will most certainly affect their ability to perform their job.
While no one can wave a magic wand to solve everyone’s problems, there are lots of things that HR can do to mitigate employee burnout and stress in the workplace:
1. Create a ‘talking culture’
Fostering the psychological safety of your people is paramount if you want to keep on top of absenteeism, quiet quitting and attrition and build resilience. By encouraging employees to maintain open lines of communication, creating a space for them to talk if they need to discuss any issues, and ensuring you have robust wellbeing policies in place to protect their interests will help them feel that their health is important to the business. The more open a company culture is, the less stigmatised people feel. Opening the discourse on subjects like menopause, fertility, men’s health and mental health can provide people with the confidence to turn to HR if they need support.
2. Set up an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
Employees need to feel that their employer has ‘got their back’ when times are tough. One simple thing they can do is to put an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in place. Not only can this help employees who may be feeling burned out, stressed or worried about their finances but it can show them that their employer makes their wellbeing a priority.
3. Explore wellbeing benefits
Whether you offer your people a digital wellbeing platform with access to things like meditation classes, yoga and fitness sessions, or somewhere that they can track fitness or wellness goals, placing a focus on health, nutrition and wellbeing and offering benefits that support these areas will create an uplift in mood. This feeds into the employee experience too, and provides that sense of security that people are searching for at the moment.
4. Prioritise mental health
If you want to show employees that their health is important, having ‘mental health first aiders’ is a good place to start. The organisation can provide accredited training and individuals can be taught to spot early signs of mental ill health as well as knowing how and where to signpost people so they access the correct resources and support they need. They can also provide a safe place to talk without any judgement.
5. Train your managers
Managing burnout and stress is about building trust and psychological safety into the organisational culture. Having managers replicate these positive behaviours is imperative if any wellbeing and mental health initiatives are going to be successful. Not having the tools, communication skills or understanding of complex issues can affect managers’ ability to effectively support their teams and can inadvertently compound the problem of stress and burnout.
Providing training such as coaching or workshops on listening or communication skills, for example, can give managers the tools they need to help their teams deal with any stress issues early.