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Alleviating employee burnout: What companies can do to boost workforce productivity in Asia

Employee burnout is on the rise in Asia, in part due to the rising cost of living. Learn how employers can alleviate employee financial stress and boost productivity.
Using mobile cellphone, Close up hands of asian bookkeeper female working with stack of papers and balance sheet with bureaucracy hardworking in office desk.

Financial strain is the leading cause of employee burnout in Asia.

According to the latest Mercer’s Global Talent Trends survey, 83% of employees in Asia reported experiencing burnout in the past year. The top reason for employee burnout is financial strain (44%), with employees spending an average of six hours of work time monthly worrying about their finances.1 The cost-of-living crisis and economic uncertainties have exacerbated financial stress, impacting employees’ mental and physical well-being.

Adding to the financial challenges employees face is a disconnect between executives and HR leaders in Asia, with the former focused on sustainability and technology and the latter on the employee experience and well-being. According to Mercer data, reducing employee burnout is only sixth on executives’ list of potential impact to the business; for HR, financial well-being benefits ranked eighth, behind physical and mental well-being.

Financial strain can affect mental and physical health, compromising job performance and resulting in burnout, which can in turn translate to higher group medical coverage premium costs for the employer. Hence, it is imperative for companies to address the financial stresses that their employees face.

5 actions employers can take to alleviate burnout and financial strain

According to Mercer’s study, employees who are thriving are 5.5x more likely to report that their employers take steps to “help them reduce their financial strain”. Here are five actions that organisations can take to build a thriving workforce:

#1: Empower employees’ financial literacy

Low levels of financial literacy are linked to high levels of stress and anxiety, according to a study in 2021.2 Employers can address this by organising financial literacy initiatives to help employees make well-informed financial decisions.

In Thailand, Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) clients are offered complimentary financial planning talks on how the National Pension Fund can be optimised for investment, retirement, and to provide for employees’ children’s education. Alternatively, companies can also contribute to employees’ retirement funds to ensure they have sufficient savings when they leave the workforce.

#2: Leverage economies of scale for preferential rates

To help employees cope with the impact of inflation, companies can take steps in working with local communities and offer discounts on goods and services, including daily necessities, to relieve the financial burdens of employees. Companies can also look to secure preferential rates with economies of scale so that savings can be passed to employees. Such items can include housing loans, childcare fees, mobile and data plans, and dental and optical expenses. 

#3: Support women’s health

Depending on the life stage, the medical costs for women’s health can impose a significant financial burden. Around 56% of their medical expenses are for health conditions that are more prevalent and/or manifest differently in women.3

To help female employees reduce their out-of-pocket medical expenses, companies can ensure that flexible benefits (flex benefits) plans or group insurance coverage includes the following types of support: 

  • Medical screenings that include female-specific medical conditions
  • Reproductive and fertility support 
  • Menopausal support

#4: Adopt flexible benefits with a focus on alleviating financial burden

Flex benefits, in which an annual sum is allocated to employees based on their needs, can be a cost-effective solution for employers to help ease financial burdens, especially for the ‘sandwich generation’ responsible for supporting the well-being of both their parents and children.4

In Thailand, for instance, flex benefits have become a popular employee benefits solution. Along with support for dependents, organisations can also consider adding gym memberships and health devices as part of flex benefits reimbursable items to further support employee well-being. 

#5: Improve access to medical treatment and other health-related services

Employees might hesitate to seek immediate healthcare due to concerns about medical costs, inconvenience, and the need to cover transportation expenses. As result, delayed treatment can exacerbate productivity loss and group medical insurance premium increases. 

To improve access to medical services and encourage early intervention of health conditions, companies can consider partnering with MMB to:

  • Set up a medical and wellness clinic at the work premises in partnership with the group medical insurance provider
  • Provide telehealth services that enable employees to receive medical advice and care remotely and conveniently
  • Conduct regular health checkups and screenings at the workplace, and health awareness talks

Recently, an MMB client in Thailand took the approach of establishing a clinic within its work premises. The on-site clinic gives employees easy access to vaccinations and various health screening tests at a subsidised rate. The efficacy of this initiative can be assessed by measuring the productivity levels, number of medical leave days taken, and claims amount.

Discover workforce solutions tailored to your organisation’s needs

To arrive at cost-sustainable solutions that effectively improve employee well-being and productivity, companies across Asia can rely on MMB’s expertise and extensive insurer and healthcare provider network to tailor a course of action that meets your needs. Take your first step to employee health and contact an MMB representative today for a non-obligatory discussion.