A prevalent corporate culture of long hours and expectations of immediate responses to queries have contributed to a dramatic rise in workplace stress in recent years. Add to that the recent pressures associated with work-from-home logistics, and employees in many sectors have found themselves under considerable strain.

Against this backdrop, employee well-being has become a critical topic for business leaders. Many companies are coming to the realization that good people management is about taking care of the quality of life at work rather than just focusing on the quality of work produced by employees.

In trying to address overwork issues before they impact mental health, professional services company Deloitte is a pioneer.

“I know from my own personal experience that burnout is no fun for anyone from the point of view of physical and emotional health,” said Jen Fisher, chief well-being officer at Deloitte US. “However, it’s also very bad for business. If your workforce is burned out, your productivity and profits are both affected.”

Spotting the Warning Signs

According to Fisher, it’s important for managers to stay alert and look out for signs of strain among their teams. Is someone acting differently? Is their productivity down? Are they being negative when they normally have a positive outlook on life? Are they sending e-mails in the middle of the night? Fisher explains that these are clues that should prompt you to check how someone’s doing and see if they’re overloaded with work.

Establishing a culture of openness is also crucial to help ensure that people ask for help when they need it. “One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re feeling under pressure, there is someone else around you who will be feeling the same thing,” remarked Fisher. “They might just be afraid to say it.”

Setting Boundaries to Help Maintain Work-Life Balance

Fisher believes that helping employees set their own boundaries in regard to work-life balance is crucial if you are to create a happy and healthy working environment. “We lock up our cars and other possessions, but when it comes to one of our most precious assets – our time and energy – we just give it away,” said Fisher.

Here, employers have an important role to play in discouraging “self-sacrificial” behaviors, such as people staying up all night to complete a project. It’s also important to create an environment where employees feel that they can disconnect from technology for an hour or two without disastrous consequences.

Making the Connection Between Well-Being and Performance

As well as helping create a happy workforce, the business case for prioritizing well-being in your organization is powerful. “There’s a clear connection between well-being and performance, and care initiatives really hit the bottom line, with impacts on everything from productivity to absenteeism and staff retention,” said Fisher. “Ultimately, if you don’t invest in your people, your business will suffer.”

To learn more about Deloitte’s pioneering approach to employee well-being, check out “Beating Burnout at Scale: Adam Grant interviews Jen Fisher, Deloitte US.”

Deb Lyons is senior director of Global Marketing for SAP SuccessFactors.
This also appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.