How Employers Can Support Employee Burnout & Avoid The Great Resignation

Around 43 percent of working Canadians said they’re likely to look for a new job in the upcoming year, according to a new survey conducted by Ipsos for Randstad Canada. The Great Resignation - in which scores of employees are leaving their jobs - is being driven by a number of factors. As experts in workplace health and wellness, we know that a company’s wellness  offerings can play an integral role in combating attrition.

A 2021 report by Limeade found that the rise in burnout (which was happening well before 2020) is a major culprit behind the Great Resignation. While their survey was conducted on U.S. workers, we know through our work at HEAL that Canadians are in the same boat. Even if your company is not experiencing a wave of resignations, teams that are burnt out or struggling with their mental health will impact your bottom line. The economic burden of mental illness in Canada even before the pandemic was estimated to be approximately $51 billion each year, with $6.3 billion resulting from lost productivity in workplaces (Mental Health Commission of Canada).

How Employers Can Support Employee Burnout 

Combatting burnout isn’t always an easy solution and we can’t place all the blame on organizations. Parents, for example, are under enormous pressure balancing work, their children’s ever changing learning environment, and other stressors brought on by the pandemic. That being said, how employers support their employees throughout this time is important. 

Employers are one of the primary means by which many people obtain mental health support and services. Helping parents with small children by providing or subsidizing daycare, giving more paid time off, and encouraging people to take mental health days signals to your teams that you have their backs. These programs cost money, but we know that for every $1 invested in supporting mental health in the workplace, there is a $4 payback (Lancet). Not only that, but this builds loyalty from your teams, which is another key reason why people choose to stay at a company.

Employers can also encourage healthy behaviours and greater resilience through their workplace wellness offerings like health seminars, health coaching, workplace wellness programs, meditation subscriptions, and so on. The Wellness Challenge we run with companies focuses on educating participants on healthy behaviours, helping them implement them through small, consistent daily habits, which we know are integral for effective behaviour change, and finally recognizing and rewarding participation. These small habits pay off. Since the start of the pandemic over 94 percent of participants surveyed said they felt better equipped to manage stress, 92 percent had better boundaries around work and 99 percent were more active.

In Limeade’s research, not feeling valued was another reason many people said they left their job. Their findings are consistent with research by the Harvard Business Review that found that people are more likely to stay with a company if they feel valued and have a sense of belonging.

Contributing to Team Camaraderie & Culture

The health and wellness initiatives you offer can contribute to team camaraderie and a positive company culture that encourages people to stick around. While our wellness programs were initially designed to help participants make healthier food choices, move more, and prioritize their mental well-being, the last two years have really highlighted the role that these programs play in building connection amongst teams. At the end of the 4 or 8 week challenge, 88 percent of participants surveyed felt more connected to their colleagues. Additionally, an astounding 99  percent of participants felt that their company cares about their health and well-being, highlighting the link between these types of programs and how employees feel valued.

Your workplace wellness initiatives help to solidify your relationship with your employees as well as among them. We know that this in turn has a positive impact on the business as a whole, since employees value good relationships with coworkers, and social connection actually has a positive impact on productivity.

While your health and wellness offerings aren’t the only tools at your disposal for keeping job satisfaction high, they are a key part of the puzzle and send an important signal that you value and support your teams. By offering your teams mental health resources and tools, they will be better able to manage stress and burnout, and healthier employees make for stronger and more resilient businesses.

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