'Employers can face these challenges head-on'
Fewer employees believe that managers have their backs when it comes to overall wellbeing, as they struggle with high levels of burnout and other mental health challenges.
These are the findings of 2023-2024 Aflac WorkForces Report, which surveyed 1,201 employers and 2,000 employees across the United States.
According to the report, employees' confidence in how much their employers care about them has declined in the past three years. In 2023, only less than half (48%) of employees are confident that their employers care about their overall wellbeing, down from the 56% in 2022, and much lower than the 59% in 2021.
This comes as more than half (57%) of the respondents said they are currently suffering from at least moderate levels of burnout, with their biggest stressor being heavy workload.
Mental health challenges
Among those who reported high levels of burnout, the report found that 89% also experienced other mental health challenges such, as anxiety, depression and trouble sleeping, among others, in the past year.
The findings echo a recent report in Australia, where the number of employees who feel supported by their managers declined in 2022.
Jeri Hawthorne, senior vice president, chief human resources officer, Aflac Incorporated, described their report's findings as "alarming."
"But employers can face these challenges head-on and turn them into opportunities," Hawthorne said in a statement. "Offering benefits that include mental health tools and resources, in addition to work-life balance perks, such as flexible work schedules, can help with employee satisfaction, retention and recruitment."
Benefits satisfaction and wellbeing
The emerging confidence issue on wellbeing support could likely stem from the disconnect on how employees are satisfied with their benefits.
More than three in four (78%) of employers believe that employees are highly satisfied with their benefits, but only 59% of employees expressed high satisfaction with that they're receiving.
This disconnect could challenge an organisation's retention and recruitment - as 53% of employees said they are at least somewhat likely to accept a position with lower pay but better benefits.
But employers are also facing the challenge of balancing the costs of benefits and satisfying employees, according to the report.
"The cost of benefits is creating a ripple effect for employers," Hawthorne said. "They want to remain competitive by offering benefits their employees are looking for while staying budget conscious. They're also faced with retention pressure and tough decisions to push expenses to employees, such as increasing employee deductibles or employees' share of health insurance premiums."
According to the report, 79% of employers think their employees understand benefit costs, but only 48% of employees said they do.
"When employees do not fully understand the inner workings of their policies and health care costs, it's difficult for them to prepare for an unexpected medical event," Hawthorne said. "It's important for employers to actively communicate about benefits year-round — not just during open enrolment periods."