How a Pay Cut Could Reduce Workplace Burnout

A recent study found that overly stressed employees cost companies $500 billion annually
Posted: Jun, 04 2019
 
 
  • A recent study found that overly stressed employees cost companies $500 billion annually

A survey by Seattle software company Shiftboard Inc. found that nearly half the workers in the United States said they’d take a pay cut if they had more control over their work schedules.

That reveals some serious burnout, and it comes as I’m thinking a lot about workplace culture. We’re putting our popular “100 Best Companies to Work For” issue to bed for our big celebration event June 21, and as you might imagine flexibility, transparency and communication are common themes among companies where employees are happy and productive.

The World Health Organization recently classified burnout as an “occupational phenomenon,” calling it a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” A recent study by Salary Finance found that burnout costs employers $500 billion annually in lost productivity.

Shiftboard surveyed more than 2,000 workers and found what employees want most is more control over their time. Forty-nine percent of hourly workers said they’d take a “reasonable” pay cut to have that. That’s noteworthy, because hourly workers tend to earn less than those on salary. Fifty-six percent would slice their pay for better benefits.

“We’re finding that wages are only part of the equation,” said Steve O’Brian, Shiftboard’s vice president of marketing. “Employers need to look beyond obvious factors to effectively increase satisfaction and retention for today’s hourly employees.”

Ways to do that include the option to work longer but fewer days each week and optional -- but not mandatory – overtime for extra pay.

The war for talent is becoming increasingly competitive, and savvy, successful companies are taking notice. In anonymous comments in Seattle Business magazine’s Best Places to Work survey, for example, employees at Seattle gaming company FlowPlay Inc. cited work-life balance, scheduling flexibility and autonomy as reasons for the company’s topnotch culture.

“[I have] a level of responsibility that I believe I would not have attained at a bigger company in such a short time. The work policy whereby we are given two days to work from home during the week is very helpful,” one employee wrote. Another said: “It’s flexible and the most human place I’ve ever worked.”

That’s the way to prevent burnout. As the Shiftboard survey reveals, not nearly enough companies are succeeding at it.

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