Two years into a pandemic: Stress and burnout top risks for the workforce


After two years of the pandemic, the workforce is exhausted. In the last 24 months, the extension of working hours, workloads, uncertainty, among other factors, have taken a toll on working people. 83% of employers in Latin America believe that the stressthe exhaustion and the effects on the mental health is the top risk facing employees in 2022, according to the Benefit Trends Survey of the WTW firm.

“Clearly it has to do with this post-pandemic moment and the impact they have on society, companies and employees. There is an intention to focus on mental health, but there is still an adaptation gap in the approach in response to what is happening as many employees telecommute and locked up at the same time”, Raúl Puchuri, director of Health and Benefits for Latin America of WTW.

However, the effects of the pandemic on mental health left organizations in Latin America unprepared to support the workforce and avoid effects such as stressthe depressionthe anxiety or even his own burnout. 39% of employers acknowledge that the greatest weakness in wellness programs is attention to emotional health, 12 points above the companies that perceive lags in physical health strategies.

“Historically, the concept of well-being has been given a primary focus on physical health because it is what is most visible. If a person smokes, that is clearly seen, and there is also a cultural and social tendency to have a healthier life oriented to the physical. All the efforts that have been made in recent years have to do with solutions focused on physical appearance. Now the pandemic highlights the problem of stress ”, explained the specialist.

From the perspective of Raúl Puchuri, the effects on mental health during the pandemic have generated a greater demand from workers for strategies and programs focused on emotional well-being and, at the same time, it has raised more awareness among employers about the importance of looking at the health of the workforce with a more comprehensive approach.

In that sense, in the next two years, 73% of employers in Latin America plan to increase their support for mental health of employees, 68% will do so in physical health and almost half (48%) will take action to improve online medical services and plan more such actions.

Among other risks perceived by companies in terms of talent, there are also unhealthy lifestyles and a drop in productivity, which are connected to stress and employee burnout.

“The pandemic has taught us many things, it has made many processes efficient, which at first means better performance. But when so many months go by, that ends up eroding the employee’s capacity and generates stress for being connected for more hours than before or for not having a limit between work and family. This has generated these levels of stress, exhaustion and in some cases the deterioration of lifestyles. It’s like a circle that ends up generating these mental health problems and have an impact on performance”, stated Raúl Puchuri.

Effective Care Programs

In the opinion of Angeles de Gyves, CEO of Healthy Place to Work, the programs of Health promotion they have to reach the collaborator. “You cannot be a healthy organization if your collaborators lack health,” said the specialist.

During a panel at the Mercer Marsh Health and Wellness Forum Benefitsspecialists agreed that effective health programs are those that are designed based on the collaborator needsbut the initiatives reach the entire workforce.

For Michelle Ferrari, CEO of Great Culture to Innovate, the pandemic has made health a priority issue. In this sense, one of the most relevant challenges for the organization is the design of strategies that really ensure a positive impact on each collaborator.

“I have seen countless times spectacular strategies on paper, but they don’t get to touch people or they don’t know people or they don’t know how the strategy helps them improve or how it impacts their lives. It is very important to have this very clear definition and that makes the collaborator feel connected with that strategy and with a company that is really concerned about their well-being”, stressed the consultant.

In his speech, José Mársico, CEO of Body Systems, stated that the Health promotion programs employees generate more than 300% in return on investment, this due to the reduction of accidents and illnesses, risk premiums, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, the improvement of the employer brand and the improvement in the attraction and retention of talent.

“The formula is simple and mathematical, the better the health of our collaborators, the greater productivity, the greater engagement and greater employer brand we are going to achieve. Only when we are in optimal condition will we be able to give the best version of ourselves and, therefore, deliver the best of our productivity and creativityand if this is promoted by the company itself, who is going to want to leave this company”, reflected the executive.

According to the WTW survey, 82% of employers in Latin America will seek for their human capital to better understand the benefits of wellness programs and appreciate them more through better use of technology, support from managers, and better communication. Derived from this, aspect 72% will seek to improve their data analysis capabilities, especially through listening activities, including surveys and discussion groups.



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