Workplace Guidance for the Wellbeing Crisis
The pandemic had a catalyzing effect on the mental health crisis, with a report in JAMA Health Forum noting that 38% more people are in mental health care since the onset of the pandemic than before.
What’s going on, and what can employers do to boost wellbeing in the workplace amid the crisis?
Read on to learn the best-practice workplace guidance.
The pandemic turbocharged the wellbeing crisis
Well, as expected, the onset of the pandemic caused widespread anxiety. Social isolation also contributed greatly to depression.
Quantifying these effects in 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that in the first year of the pandemic, global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a staggering 25%.
In the U.S. alone, over three quarters of workers reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. That 2021 figure represented a 17% increase over the previous two years.
Worse still, across the globe, services for mental, neurological, and substance use conditions were the most disrupted of all essential health services.
The wellbeing crisis contributes to workplace burnout
These environmental factors are seeping into the workplace, where they are colliding headfirst into the burnout crisis.
For instance, Deloitte’s 2023 Workplace Burnout survey revealed that 77% of responding professionals had experienced employee burnout at their current job. More than half cited more than one occurrence of burnout, as well.
Passion for one’s job also didn’t mitigate the effects of burnout. The survey found that although 87% of professionals say they have passion for their current job, 64% still say they are frequently stressed.
Nor can employers afford to ignore these findings. Burnout is having a catastrophic impact on retention, especially of millennials. Nearly half of millennials say they have left a job specifically because they felt burned out.
Interventions to solve the wellbeing in the workplace crisis
What’s there to be done, then? Employees are pointing the finger at employers who are not doing enough to minimize burnout. Over 20% of respondents say their company does not offer programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout.
What should such an initiative look like?
Here, the WHO has offered relevant guidance. Having found that high workloads increase the risk of symptoms of mental health conditions, certain workplace interventions were tested.
Often the data was inconclusive. But in certain instances, experts can make recommendations; such as the following interventions to improve workplace wellbeing:
Flextime, or flexible working arrangements, yielded improvements to mental health symptoms (e.g., psychological health). Additional evidence also supports the view that offering control in flexible working arrangements (such as self-scheduling) may have favorable impacts on health.
Teleworking yielded small positive effects on mental health symptoms. Teleworking was inversely related to absenteeism in a major European study (Kröll).
Participatory organizational interventions targeting job design
Here, a controlled trial reported that work unit-level interventions with worker participation and dialogue, job redesign, and organizational learning yielded a significant decrease in mental health symptoms.
Here, one study found that a multicomponent intervention containing performance bonus, job promotion opportunities, and mentoring support generated higher retention rates compared to a matched wait list control group (i.e., given the intervention after 12 months) at 12- and 36-month follow-up.
What about the start-up costs of getting these best-practice wellbeing interventions off the ground? Well, as the wellbeing crisis burns hot, organizations can’t afford to (nor should they) belabor implementation and tracking.
To that end, advanced digital safety management software with wellbeing management capability can help businesses (1) respond to mental health and wellbeing events, (2) implement and track proactive initiatives to support their personnel, as well as (3) better understand the opportunities for mental health and wellbeing improvement.
Not all digital capabilities are created equal, though. To learn more about the features you should consider in a wellbeing management solution, download our Buyer’s Guide to Wellbeing Management Software.