Number of the day: Focus on burnout

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Nearly all companies identify stress and burnout as a threat for their workforces, yet few have adopted and articulated a wellbeing strategy, according to new research from Willis Towers Watson. The consulting firm, which surveyed 322 employers in October, found that just 35% of employers currently have an organization-wide behavioral health strategy and action plan.

What it means for HR leaders

It’s no surprise that mental health continues to be a pressing issue afflicting the workforce: Scores of research have found that employees are struggling during the ongoing pandemic, and rates of burnout, stress, anxiety and depression continue to soar. Many experts, including several speaking at HRE‘s upcoming Health & Benefits Leadership Conference in April, have noted these concerns and have advised employers to step up with enhanced benefits and programs. (Register for the event here.)

The new data from Willis Towers Watson finds that employers clearly know mental health is a problem and say it’s a top HR priority. The problem is, the research indicates, not enough employers are stepping up to address the issue. The survey finds that only a quarter of employers have adopted and articulated a wellbeing strategy and just over a third of employers have an organization-wide behavioral health strategy.

Other wellbeing efforts are also falling short: For instance, the survey finds that only 64% of employers currently offer target-specific conditions for high-cost cases such as maternity, diabetes and depression and just 18% are helping employees to set objectives and track financial wellbeing programs at pivotal financial decision points such as new family, young children and first house.

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But that’s likely to change. The survey finds that employers plan to make strides in the wellbeing arena. About half (48%) of respondents are planning or considering implementing an organization-wide behavioral health strategy and action plan.

That will be an especially important goal in the midst of the Great Resignation; burnout is one of the main reasons that scores of employees are leaving their jobs.

Related: What’s Keeping HR Up at Night? The Great Resignation and more, our survey shows

“As we move into 2022, employers struggling with recruitment and retention will look to make their wellbeing programs a differentiator to attract and engage top talent,” says Regina Ihrke, senior director, health and benefits at Willis Towers Watson. “The organizations that most effectively move the needle are those that develop a comprehensive strategy that supports all aspects of their employees’ wellbeing.”

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.