12. March 2024

Why is everyone talking about… energy check-ins?

Personio Pulse: This Week in HR - 3

Welcome to Personio Pulse: This Week in HR, where each week we take a look at the latest trends in the world of work, what you need to know about them and what they mean for you as an HR professional. 

This week we’re covering energy check-ins and what they could mean for your organisation and HR team.

What you need to know

With one in five UK workers taking time off for stress-related mental health concerns in 2023, companies are perhaps under more pressure than ever to address the issue of burnout. And accounting behemoth KPMG has risen to the challenge. 

Last week, KPMG announced an ‘energy check-in’ initiative across the entire company, targeting employees who work more hours, spend more time in calls or take less PTO than expected. If an employee reaches a particular threshold, their manager is prompted to ask them about their work-life balance and offer resources to prioritise wellbeing. 

The imperative to spot burnout early is both personal and economic: it can take longer to ‘bounce back’ from burnout when it’s already gone too far, and poor health costs the UK economy an estimated £138 billion per year due to absence and low productivity.

What others are saying about it 

Brian Dow, Chief Executive of Mental Health UK, said, “Simply put, the UK is rapidly becoming a burnt-out nation.” 

In his introduction to Mental Health UK’s Burnout Report 2024, he explained: “Nearly half of those surveyed say their employer does not have a plan to spot and support people who are dealing with chronic stress. The direct impact this will have on productivity, let alone potential unemployment for those who end up dropping out of the workplace, is deeply worrying.”

Sandy Torchia, KPMG’s Vice Chair of Talent and Culture, emphasised how much of a difference feeling heard can make to employees: “People feel like someone’s paying attention to the work that they’re doing, how they’re working, and wants to help them with it.” She added: “Prior to these energy check-ins, we didn’t really have a way to bring all this information together.” 

What that means for you

While KPMG’s actions are encouraging, it’s concerning that so many companies still don’t offer enough support in this area. But there are ways for HR teams to move the needle:

  • Build guardrails to spot chronic stress early: Think about signals that might indicate stress — like an upward trend in sick days or a downward trend in engagement metrics. Keep an eye on your people data to identify trends while you can still take action to mitigate them.

  • Reevaluate your sick leave policies: Offering self-care days (also known as “duvet days”) specifically for mental health can alleviate stress and improve employee performance. Check out our guide on how to implement them.

  • Train people managers in mental health at work: Creating a culture where employees are encouraged to share mental health concerns with managers is essential — as is ensuring managers are trained to respond appropriately and have a playbook for making reasonable adjustments or helping with prioritisation.

  • Consider offering employee assistance programmes: In Mental Health UK’s research, almost a third of respondents (29%) said professional support would help prevent burnout. Free support via an EAP can be a safety net for employees in tough times.

At Personio, we also have a tradition of adding a ‘low battery’ emoji (🪫) to our Slack statuses when we’re not feeling 100% for any reason. It helps normalise not feeling ‘ok’, and promotes checking in with one another. 

What else should I read? 

That's all for this week's edition of Personio Pulse: This Week in HR. Check back next week as we continue to dissect the latest trends impacting the ways we work. 

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Anna Jager-Elliott

Anna Jager-Elliott

Anna Jager-Elliott is a Senior Content Strategist at Personio. She enjoys watching trends emerge in the world of work and writing about how they'll affect our day-to-day experiences.

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