There’s no beating around the bush, the past two years have been rough to say the least. We are now almost 24 months into the pandemic and daily coronavirus cases are only increasing. While companies have found innovative ways to make returning to work as normal as possible in this abnormal time, there’s no denying that the stress is getting to people.
The pandemic has put limitations on just about every aspect of life. Nearly two years of limited social interaction, canceled events, travel restrictions, and working from home is enough to put a damper on anyone’s mental health and we have seen the effects first hand. Just one year into the pandemic the average number of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression had jumped from 11 percent to 41 percent. Now, another year has passed with no end in sight and people are starting to feel hopeless.
While mental health was once a rare topic of discussion in the workplace, the pandemic has forced employees and leaders alike to begin the conversation. In spring of 2021, more than half of workers said they were experiencing work burnout. In fact, burnout is becoming so common that the World Health Organization recently named it an official medical diagnosis.
What does this mean for you, and how can you prevent employee burnout at your insurance agency, carrier, or MGA/MGU? Let’s discuss.
What is employee burnout?
We’re willing to bet you’ve experienced stress in the workplace at some point. Maybe those deadlines that once seemed so far away are now creeping up on you, or your team just can’t seem to work together. These scenarios are stressful and can negatively affect mental health, but on their own they don’t qualify as burnout. Employee burnout occurs when an individual faces unmanaged and chronic workplace stress.
What causes employee burnout?
Employee burnout can have multiple causes. At the root of the mass burnout brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is the perceived lack of control. Extreme amounts of job loss in the U.S. left individuals still working fearful of their own job stability. Employees across all industries were left scrambling to figure out the logistics of working from home. These big changes to daily work processes gave workers an overwhelming loss of control, which caused their stress and anxiety to skyrocket.
Other common causes of employee burnout include:
- Unsustainable workloads
- Lack of reward for effort
- Lack of support from community
- Imbalance of values and skills
How can employee burnout be prevented?
For many in the insurance industry, work means being seated at your desk hunched over a computer for eight hours a day. While it can be easy to get lost in your work, sitting at your desk for hours on end with no breaks can actually be counterproductive. Breaks are a great way to reset your mind and improve your work output, plus they offer you a chance to be active on an otherwise sedentary day.
There is no shortage of evidence that exercise is great for your mental health. Something as simple as a 15-minute walk or bike ride can improve your mood and focus. Companies can help encourage active employee breaks by offering group classes or installing treadmill desks. Even something as simple as switching the daily debrief to a walking meeting can help inspire creativity and improve mental health.
Offer employee assistance programs
If the pandemic taught us one thing it’s that, whether we want it to or not, sometimes the factors affecting our personal lives seep into our work life and cause added stress. Employees who don’t feel personally supported at work can experience a decline in mental health leading to burnout.
Companies can combat this by providing employee assistance programs (EAPs) focused on mental health counseling and stress management. Offering access to information and resources to promote positive mental health is vital in today’s workplace. By offering these resources to employees free of charge, companies can show their employees they care about worker wellbeing.
Lead by example
As a leader, make sure you are setting good examples for your employees when it comes to taking breaks, managing stress, and maintaining work/life balance. In times of hardship, employees look to their managers for guidance, so it’s important that leaders help alleviate workplace stress rather than add to it.
A good leader will also practice open communication with their team. This means being transparent about expectations, and never withholding important progress updates or information. Employees who feel they cannot talk to their boss about their stress levels will bottle it up and be forced to continue struggling alone.
Update stressful and time-consuming processes
One last tip for preventing employee burnout is to eliminate stress wherever possible. We may be biased, but there’s no question that implementing new technology at your insurance agency, carrier, or MGA/MGU can save employees’ time and sanity. Automating manual processes frees employees up to take more breaks. That means they can spend more time improving their mental health rather than staring at a spreadsheet for an extra hour.
Don’t let employee burnout get the best of your insurance company
Burnout may be an official medical diagnosis now, but that doesn’t mean it’s incurable. It helps to know that if you or your employees are experiencing burnout, you’re not alone and you’re not helpless. Practice the tips mentioned above to help prevent employee burnout and understand that what you’re feeling is okay. Allow yourself or your employees the time and resources needed to reset and come back to work ready to succeed.
Whether you’re an agency, carrier, or MGA/MGU, modernizing your producer onboarding, licensing, and compliance helps make employees’ jobs easier and less repetitive. Updating your technology can decrease employees’ stress and give them time back to focus on more enriching tasks and growth opportunities. See AgentSync in action today.