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The hidden causes of employee turnover: Mental health and burnout

The hidden causes of employee turnover: Mental health and burnout

When you ask more of employees or push them harder, they’ll need additional support to maintain their personal wellbeing and levels of performance you are asking them to achieve. Are you providing that?

Employers need to talk about employee care. No, not the trendy new perks or menu of benefits that you introduced last year, but the fact that today’s workplace is an always-on environment that extends beyond the physical office. In such an environment, when you ask more of them or push them harder, they’ll need additional support to maintain their personal wellbeing and levels of performance you are asking them to achieve.

As such, Limeade's survey of 1,000 full-time US workers, found that organisations rarely fulfill employees’ socioemotional needs for affiliation, esteem and emotional support. In fact, 47% of employees who have disclosed a mental health issue in the workplace admit to having experienced a negative consequence by doing so. Side note: Millennials are more than 2x as likely as Baby Boomers to disclose a mental health condition at work.

The survey, titled 2020 Employee Care Report, cited academic studies which show show that top causes of unwanted turnover include a low-quality supervisor relationship, poor team morale, lack of tangible rewards, lack of growth opportunities, and lack of autonomy - all of which link back to poor emotional wellbeing.

What can employers do about it?

#1: Don't rely on exit interviews

More than four in five respondents (88%) were truthful about why they left a job in an exit interview, but many still wished they had said something more. This “something more” is valuable information for your organisation to improve how it cares for its employees, so it’s in your best interest to dig for it.

While exit interviews are important, they happen too late in the employee lifecycle to truly understand what’s going on in an organization. Instead, leverage stay interviews and consider developing an in-depth discussion guide with questions geared toward understanding whether your business fulfills the basic, physiological and socioemotional needs of its employees.

Additionally, train HR representatives on how to create an open and safe environment where employees not only feel empowered to provide candid feedback, but also have ample opportunity to discuss their experience throughout their job tenure.

#2: Identify the signs of burnout

Burnout happens when employees are highly engaged, but don’t get the support they need to maintain their personal wellbeing. It’s a real, documented occupational phenomenon — the World Health Organization has even added the syndrome to its International Classification of Diseases.

Limeade's study found that of employees who consider themselves burned out, 52% had trouble sleeping at night, 34% had a disinterest in socialising, and 26% consumed more alcohol than usual. Further, a multi-sample study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior lists fatigue, irritability and health problems as symptoms of burnout.

Tackling burnout is about identifying problem areas, tracking them, intervening at the group level and constantly working to resolve the issues. It’s also about training HR and managers to spot the signs of burnout and create a safe environment to show employees you have the resources to help them recover.

#3: Prove to employees that you care

With communication and reporting of workplace transgressions increasing alongside the rise of the #MeToo movement, it’s critical for organisations to be thoughtful and authentic in their efforts. These initiatives haven’t been overlooked; 52% of employees have noticed their company taking steps to improve their inclusion efforts since the #MeToo movement began.

And yet employees’ views about their employers’ authenticity on this topic are fairly split. Perhaps because too many employees don’t feel they work for leaders who are on their side. It’s clear that many employers have yet to gain employee trust and convince their people that employee care is their main motivator.

By promoting your inclusion efforts internally, your people are more likely to come on board. Start by showing employees what your D&I goals are. To help your employees rally around inclusion as a cause, your internal marketing plan should include employee-run resource groups, outside expert speakers and tangible ways to further the conversation, such as a social media hashtag or an internal forum to share daily acts of inclusion.

Image / Limeade

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