Four Ways to Support Employees Suffering from Stress and Burnout

Emma Milek
December 21, 2022
Stressed Employee

An employee comes to you and says they are burned out, completely stressed and they feel they need a break! What do you do?

Stress and anxiety have been on the rise in recent years. With 84% of Americans reporting feeling stressed weekly and 42% of millennials reporting burnout. Leave requests to recoup and care for mental health issues are on the rise. And to be frank, ensuring your employees the time they need to stay mentally healthy is key to molding a happy and productive workplace. With different leave options and qualifications, how can you point your employees in the right direction regarding stress leave from work?

Taking FMLA for Stress and Burnout

FMLA allows qualifying employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. Every leave is different, some may qualify for a stress-related leave, while others do not. When considering if an employee should be eligible for a stress-related leave, keep in mind that FMLA covers those who are going through extreme stress or mental illness that impacts their ability to work.

In order to qualify, they must show that they have a “serious health condition”. Mental health conditions are considered serious if they require inpatient care or continuing treatment from a healthcare provider. Other key indicators to determine if FMLA is the right leave to take for stress and burnout include:

  • The employee needs ample time to recover
  • The employee is okay with unpaid leave
  • They pass the qualifications for a serious health condition

Accommodations for Mental Health

If an employee is not eligible for FMLA or simply just needs resources to make their job less stressful, an accommodation could be the perfect solution.

ADA covers stress and mental illness if something about the work environment is preventing an employee from performing their job function well. Accommodations can be a great way to make an employee much happier in their day-to-day.

Perhaps an employee has been recently collaborating with many different departments and doing more public speaking than they had initially anticipated. They begin experiencing social anxiety, which is attributed to their burnout. Work from home, modified break schedules, or rest areas are all reasonable accommodations that can help this employee tackle their burnout and have a better work-life balance.There are many creative ways you can use ADA to help your employees who experience stress and burnout!

Allocating Benefits Toward Mental Health

If employees coming to you with mental health concerns is becoming a trend, it may be a sign that the company needs to implement some sort of mental health leave. Every company is unique, and we all have differing resources we can allocate toward benefits. But allowing employees to take a mental health day now and then, or even an extended paid or unpaid leave, lets your employees know that you care for their mental well-being.

If you already have a mental health leave in place, make sure that your employees are well aware of this leave and what it has to offer. Encourage them to take it if their circumstances match.

Sometimes the Best Option is a Vacation

Sometimes taking PTO is the best option for employees to combat burnout. Companies that are looking to retain employees and reduce burnout know that providing their employees with sufficient vacation time can not only help their employee’s mental health but increase productivity when they are back in the office.

This is why many companies have moved to the “unlimited PTO” model. A common problem with these policies is that some employees may not feel entitled to their vacation time. Whether it is a two-week beach getaway or a couple of 3-day weekends, ensure that your employees feel encouraged to take the PTO time they need—especially those who are feeling the effects of burnout.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to remember our favorite tip when supporting employees who are stressed or burned out: you can’t force people to request a leave or accommodation, but you should make it very easy for them to do so. Always make sure you’re encouraging employees to make requests.

Often, requesting a leave can be intimidating, especially when it’s because someone is feeling stressed or burnout. AbsenceSoft’s Employee Self Service module provides employees the ability to request leave at their fingertips when it’s best for them. They are kept in the know about the process, and will be alerted if any forms are requested from them.

If your team struggles with determining the right leave or accommodation for different scenarios, AbsenceSoft’s determination feature may be just the thing you need. Our software pulls in historical data as well as any information gathered from the employee to help you determine the best leave for your employee. This way determinations can be made quickly and accurately, so leave can get moving in the right direction.

All in all, encouraging time off for employees to relax and de-stress is key to keeping your workforce happy. Whether it’s a 12-week FMLA leave or a few three-day weekends, make sure employees have a clear understanding of what their options are and how they can go about requesting them. If it’s time to implement a leave management system, to help keep track of leave and requests, the team at AbsenceSoft would love to chat.