How employers can handle burnout and mental health issues in the workplace

11 september 2023
Partner Content

Burnout and mental health in the workplace have become a priority for employers and employees alike, particularly post-pandemic. Three plus years of isolation, social and environmental change and now the current economic environment – it’s not surprising it’s all having a huge impact on the health and well-being of individuals and families, at home, at work and in our communities. On a positive note, it has accelerated the conversation surrounding mental health and has brought it to the forefront of the minds of many.

Mental health support is a critical component of any drive to improve Whole Health within the workplace. Employers must provide the tools and framework needed to both protect and support employee mental health, and this should be included as part of an effective workplace health strategy.

Actions employers can take to support their workforce’ mental health

Management training

There’s no ‘one-size fits all’ approach: employees in leadership positions need to be trained on how to actively listen, even if it is for five minutes a day. Regularly checking in is extremely important and needs to be organised quickly if any mental health issue is detected. Specific support programs offered by the company should be well known by managers to ensure they can refer to these solutions.

Set daily goals

Setting small daily healthy goals that involve minimal effort can have a huge impact on a person’s daily mood, for example spending 20 minutes each day away from the screen to read, or going for a walk at lunchtime, can have a positive impact. Employees should be encouraged to take some screen free time each day.


Leaders and team managers should regularly provide feedback to employees when they have done a good job, and never miss an opportunity to praise a colleague or team member. This can make a huge difference to their day and helps to provide them with purpose within their work.

Positive mindset

People spend most of their day in the workplace, and it can be a very influential environment when it comes to mental health. A positive mindset must come from the top and filter through to all employees.

Physical Exercise

Introducing exercise to the daily routine can improve employees’ moods, releasing serotonin the ‘happy hormone’. Taking the time for a self-care activity can be vital to avoiding burnout and achieve the feeling of accomplishment. Very reasonable targets should be set to generate this positive feeling of achievement.

Cigna’s 5% Pledge Initiative

At Cigna, we firmly believe that meaningful action needs to come from the top, and that’s why we have introduced a new global initiative, the 5% Pledge. We’re urging business leaders to make a public commitment to dedicate 5% of their annual working hours to mental health in the workplace to address the issue of staff well-being in an action-oriented manner.

Available for all companies, the pledge offers businesses support, practical advice and resources to enable them to focus their efforts in a way that will work for their employees.

Our own leadership at the highest levels have taken the pledge, as well as over 296 managers. By taking the pledge, leaders can join a community of other like-minded leaders who are facing similar issues in the workplace to exchange thinking, best practices and ideas that will help to create safe and supportive working environments.

We know that the best companies to work for are those that support their employees' physical health and bolster their mental well-being. That’s why the 5% Pledge is so important and is crucial for us to recognise, understand and accommodate mental health challenges in an inclusive and comprehensive way.


There needs to be a focus on both prevention and resilience, as well as providing support to employees already dealing with mental health concerns. Employers need to provide the tools and framework needed to both protect and support employee mental health in the workplace. This should be included as part of an effective workplace health strategy.

Encouraging a culture of healthy living and working – as well as prevention and early intervention are so important. By spotting symptoms at an early stage, there’s much greater chance of achieving a speedy recovery. Or better still, prevents the illness occurring at all.

Mental health remains one of the biggest challenges for employers around the world. Now is the time for organisations to rethink mental health support in the workplace, not only by supplying benefits, but by recognising the true impact they can have on the mental health and wellbeing of their people - fostering a culture from the top down that helps staff feel safe and supported.