Complete Wellness Solutions contributed the data for this analysis
The upsurge in remote work introduced a work-life imbalance for employees and created considerable challenges for employers wanting to retain the best in their workforce and capture new talent. However, a question that became increasingly pertinent for employees was – when exactly does work time begin and end each day? Nearly 60 million Americans have voluntarily left their jobs since the beginning of 2021 according to the 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey. While a myriad of contributing factors is likely at play, 20% of those workers self-reported that seeking higher pay wasn’t the reason for their departure, leaving workplace benefits, quality of life, and similar factors responsible for their decisions.
Two years down the line, the coronavirus-induced surge in home working still continues. While employers have been working closely with the HR departments to ensure the best for the employees, there still doesn’t seem to be any solution strong enough.
In this article, we will be discussing how the borderline difference between work and home resulted in burnout, and how mental health solutions in view are falling short.
Grappling with the changes that have come to the world of work since March 2020, a radical shift in employee behavior and mental health complaints has been noticed. Millions of employees were forced to go remote and not all had the luxury to hold onto their jobs, making rent, and mortgage payments. The blurring of borders for working parents meant they had to juggle their careers and serve as caretakers for children who were schooling from home too. The resulting fallout (and the burnout) was inevitable. Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of ComPsych said: “The pandemic has created some of the most trying situations leaders have ever faced and burnout is a serious issue in our new world of work,”. He believes “People’s mental and physical health is really strained and they are suffering. Employers must take the reins and actively try to alleviate issues before things get worse.”
A common wave of stress and anxiety has been looming over the workforce with unrelenting pressures that often tend to lead us to emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. Among all respondents of a survey of 1,500 U.S. workers conducted to determine the level of burnout, 80% believe Covid-19 has impacted workplace burnout—though, how and to what extent vary. A 67% majority say burnout has worsened during the pandemic, though 13% believe it has gotten better.
Some employers are calling the workers back to the office, and companies like Airbnb announced going globally remote indefinitely. On the other hand, hybrid models are also being adopted as an easy and manageable solution – a midway point for office enthusiasts and remote recluses. But not every employee fits in with these models and the working structures aren’t enough to make them stay.
While employers have been investing in mental health benefits for employees, 57% of employers think burnout is still affecting turnover and retention at their company, according to ComPsych. Nearly half, 43% of U.S. employees, say their employer-provided health care plan’s mental health benefits did not meet all of their needs in 2020. What’s more, 26% of workers in that same period who received mental healthcare called the quality of care “substandard.”
Are mental health benefits enough?
If researchers are to be believed, burnout and stress are at all-time highs across professions. The World Health Organization recently classified burnout as a disease. Defined as chronic, acute stress over prolonged periods of time, worker burnout has been characterized by feelings of reduced performance at work, heightened negativity about one’s job, and depletion of energy.
Above and beyond standard policies, there is a need for a workplace culture that ensures employees feel comfortable and supported in their life outside of the workplace. Enterprises need to look into incentivizing cultural change with creative programs and initiatives. Often employees are reluctant to accept and adopt the cultural shifts. Jason from Complete Wellness Solutions (CWS) shares “Health promotion is the art and the science of helping people change their lifestyle toward a state of optimal health. Optimal health is defined as a balance of physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. Lifestyle change can be facilitated though a combination of efforts to enhance awareness, change behavior, and create environments that support good health practices.”
Thus, companies must look into taking the first step to better supporting employees by joining the difficult conversation and listening. They must engage in discussions with industry peers, health experts, and employees and create a space where businesses can share experiences and best practice solutions. Further, the Harris Poll reflects that in 2021, 49% of American workers accessed mental healthcare, while nationwide the trend sits at only 20%, demonstrating that workers are roughly 250% more likely to need mental health care than the general population. CWS believes that holistic wellness programs should adapt quickly to address the emerging mental health crisis. A successful wellness program should be addressing key factors that cause most chronic conditions and provide a complete solution that recognizes the interconnectedness of physical & mental health.
A problem shared is a problem halved. Discussing work-life balance with employees can make a huge difference by helping managers get more out of their team. They can co-create solutions to the challenges and bring out more from the existing policies while laying the groundwork for new ones. With 86% of employees nationwide asking for more mental health care benefits, there should be more ways to deliver and advocate for enhanced mental healthcare. Now more than ever, there is a high demand for work-life balance to ensure employees do not end up feeling burnout in the future.