Public sector workers have been waging a battle against burnout for some time now.
Consider, for instance, a recent survey of 475 federal, state and local government workers, which found 52% of these respondents saying they are burned out from their jobs (compared to 46% of their private sector counterparts saying the same).
A more recent survey, however, suggests that employers are recognizing the stress their workers are under, and are responding by upping their investment in employee well-being.
Conducted by global insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting services provider Arthur J. Gallagher Inc., the poll of more than 4,000 U.S.-based organizations analyzed the total rewards investments employers are making in response to trends in employee physical and emotional well-being. Overall, more than 90% of responding employers said they are increasing their support for one or more core dimension of employee well-being, including physical, emotional, career and financial.
An Organizational Issue
The connection between employee health—mental well-being in particular—and workplace performance is well-documented. One recent study, for example, asked more than 1,100 American employees to share insight into their mental health, job engagement levels and sense of job security.
In that poll, more than one-third of respondents (34%) said their self-reported level of mental health was lower compared to six months ago. Close to 70% of those reporting worse mental well-being said they were also less engaged in their jobs.
Not surprisingly, Gallagher’s survey finds concerns over declining mental well-being among the workforce driving employers’ continued focus on employee well-being. The poll sees employee focus on emotional well-being in the workplace trending accordingly, with 74% of responding employers saying they have increased their emphasis on employee mental health in 2023. And the number of companies saying they provide mental health training for managers, leaders or HR increased by 5 percentage points to 22% this year, according to Gallagher.
In addition, 71% of organizations report offering clinical care such as virtual or telephonic mental health counseling, and 25% say they are allowing time off for mental health and burnout, representing a 3% increase from 2022.
The poll also sees employers updating paid time off (PTO) and leave policies. For example, nearly all employers (96%) offer PTO to full-time employees, and more than 80% allow employees to carry over days into future years. Less than half, however, include separate vacation, sick or personal days, with just 5% offering unlimited paid time off.
With employers adapting to accommodate an aging workforce, mental health challenges and changing benefits administration, half of the responding organizations (49%) have developed strategies for administering for administering leaves and disabilities. Another 15% said they expect to do so in the next two years.
With regard to employee leave, Gallagher finds employers increasingly aligning paid leaves with family-focused policies. For instance, 41% of respondents offer new child or parent bonding paid leave; an increase of 5% from 2022. Among the 13% of employers that provide paid caregiver leave, 40% offer 11 weeks to 12 weeks.
Such solutions “can be very positive in helping employees improve and/or manage their health and provide a cultural message of caring for employees,” Kathleen Schulz, global innovation leader at Gallagher, told PSHRA.
But these initiatives alone won’t reduce the burnout employees are experiencing, she said, “because burnout is not an individual issue. It’s an organizational issue.”
Real progress in combating employee burnout, said Schulz, will come from a root-cause analysis that concentrates on work-induced stressors such as unsustainable workload, mismatched values and skills, lack of autonomy and insufficient rewards, for example.
With workers expecting their employer to prioritize well-being, organizations “need to think differently about the future of work,” Schulz said. “Employers who address the root causes of burnout and focus on holistic well-being as a strategic cultural imperative will be better positioned to retain a healthy and engaged workforce.”
13 September 2023
HR News Article