Economic unrest. Layoff fears. Return to office pressures. American workers are feeling burned out. More than 40% of desk workers in the U.S. feel burned out at work, according to a recent survey from research consortium Future Forum, while Asana found a whopping 70% of workers experienced some form of employee burnout in the past year.

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Burnout affects the full spectrum of employee groups and demographics. According to Mercer’s 2022 Inside Employees’ Minds survey, groups including workers under-35, women, LGBTQ+, Black and Hispanic workers all rank their mental and emotional health as a top-3 workplace concern. Asana also reports 84% of Gen Z experience some form of job-related distress, along with 74% of Millennials and about half of Baby Boomers.

Signs of Burnout

Andrea Rios is an Employee Health and Benefits Advisor with Lovitt & Touché, a Marsh McLennan Agency.

The World health Organization (WHO) officially classifies burnout as a medical diagnosis resulting “from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Four key symptoms of burnout include:

  • Feelings of energy depletion, exhaustion and fatigue
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job
  • Feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

Burnout Impacts on Business

Burnout is more than a personal concern. Prolonged, extensive rates of burnout among employees can prove highly detrimental to a business.

According to a 2022 report from McKinsey, “Organizations pay a high price for failure to address workplace factors that strongly correlate with burnout.”

Ignoring burnout and the problems leading to distress can result in:

  • Higher attrition
  • Lower engagement
  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased absenteeism

Helping Employees Avoid Burnout

Although there is no quick fix to solving burnout, businesses have several tools and strategies available to them help prevent burnout among their workforces.

Assess Overall Culture

Addressing employee burnout throughout an organization starts at the top. Business leaders should take a close look at their culture. Is it conducive to education, fun and leveraging people’s strengths? Are compensation grades and tables competitive?

Next, reevaluate the organization’s management approach on an individual basis: Do employees hide anxiety and depression at work, then come home to a stress-induced breakdown? 

Offer or Enhance Mental Health Benefits

In addition to basic medical benefits, businesses ought to explore more robust mental health options in their employer-sponsored plans and educate workers on how to access those resources. 

Over two-thirds of U.S. employees suffered from anxiety or depression in 2021, according to SilverCloud’s Employee Mental Health Survey — which explains why 40% of companies have expanded their behavioral health benefits since the start of the pandemic.

Align Compensation with Inflation 

Inflation remains a major concern. When pay raises don’t keep up, it creates a cycle of money stress among workers at home, which leads to poor mental health in the workplace, and poor mental health in the workplace makes burnout inevitable.

While it may be challenging to adjust compensation to better align with current inflation, it pays to prioritize the financial well-being of employees you already know and trust.

Provide Growth & Education Opportunities

Investing in employees is an excellent antidote to burnout. Businesses should explore education and growth opportunities for workers to keep them engaged and hold burnout at bay.

More than nine in 10 U.S. workers would stay at a company longer if the organization invested in helping them learn, according to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report. Plus, employees who with access to internal growth opportunities are 15% more engaged.

Appealing Perks and Employee Appreciation

Employees who feel appreciated, respected and trusted are less likely to experience burnout in the workplace. Implementing various ways to express appreciation and showcase trust and respect are essential for preventing burnout and boosting morale.

A few possible ways to do this include:

  • Hybrid Work: Yes, the debate rages on, but employees clearly prefer the flexibility that remote or hybrid work provide. Requiring workers to come to the office only when necessary (if feasible for your industry) creates a mutual sense of respect and trust.
  • Team Get-Togethers: Birthday parties, happy hours and team lunches may seem like “extras,” but these gatherings help build a close-knit company culture. Employees who have a chance to connect with coworkers in a more relaxed setting are more likely to stick around and less likely to experience burnout.

Don’t Ignore Burnout

Addressing burnout within their workforces is no longer something businesses can ignore. Companies that wish to attract and retain top talent and compete in today’s economy must explore tangible steps and policies to prevent burnout and ensure employees have the support, tools and resources to perform at their highest levels.

Author: Andrea Rios is an Employee Health and Benefits Advisor with Lovitt & Touché, a Marsh McLennan Agency. She advises clients on employee benefits, total rewards and HR strategies. More at