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Contractor Burnout: Combatting the Problem

Many American workers were feeling over-leveraged or unhappy at work even before Covid disrupted lives and livelihoods across the country. The good news is that the percentage of U.S. employees who report being burned out by work is down from its peak at the height of the pandemic. The bad news: Burnout remains a significant issue in the workplace. And there is another wrinkle to be considered: What about contractor burnout?

In fact, almost half of American workers (49 percent) say they are burned out from their jobs, according to an August survey from Eagle Hill Consulting. Primary complaints among the labor force include heavy workloads and the ongoing worker shortage. Surveyed employees cited a four-day work week and more schedule flexibility in general as ways for companies to consider reducing burnout.

Members of the contingent workforce face many of the same stressors as any other employee, yet they may also reasonably experience feelings based on the nature of their contract relationship, such isolation from the larger group (whether because they’re working from home or separated from full-time staff) or a lack of job security. With mental health challenges for the general population mounting, and with more company leaders coming to grips with the importance of mental wellness among their employees, now is an ideal moment for contractors and those who employ them to team up to bring about a cooling effect on burnout at work.

What Can Contractors Do to Reduce Burnout?

First and foremost, every employee should try to read the signs of precisely what they’re feeling when work seems to be getting the better of them. Is it burnout or depression?

The former may leave the employee feeling too tired to enjoy their passions, whereas the latter can mean they no longer derive any joy from those passions. One is tied to the work itself, while the other is a medical condition that may be best treated with professional help. If you’re experiencing a crisis, SAMHSA’s 988 Lifeline Network and National Helpline offer 24/7 support. For others concerned they may be suffering from depression, consider the company resources available to you, such as access to a licensed therapist.

As for burnout, Dr. Rebecca Brendel, president of the American Psychiatric Association, tells the New York Times that a key differentiator is that the phenomenon improves when the employee steps away from work. A recent study, for example, found that 10-minute microbreaks can help. But there’s one simple way a contractor can simplify the traditional freelance experience and start reducing work-induced stress: sign up with PeopleCaddie.

Because PeopleCaddie serves as the employer of record for most of its contractors, who then operate on a W-2 basis, those workers can access benefits that include health insurance and paid time off. PeopleCaddie can even work with a contractor to build mental health breaks between assignments – often before the existing project ends, eliminating one of the main anxieties most contractors face (lining up their next gig). The best way to address mental health is with a proactive approach. PeopleCaddie can help reduce contractor burnout. 

What Can Companies Do to Reduce Contractor Burnout?

As more companies are discovering the value of contingent labor, they are building out their workforces with more independent contractors than ever, a development that by itself can help mitigate the labor shortage and ease burnout on currently overburdened workers.

Additionally, however, companies would do well to foster inclusive cultures that signal to independent contractors just how much they are valued. When contingent laborers receive regular face-time from managers or even, say, an invitation to the company holiday party, they are more likely to feel part of a team and draw energy and motivation from that group.

The more an organization can enable the lifestyle a contractor wants to live, the more likely it is to lay the groundwork for a productive employee relationship. And PeopleCaddie can help. Some of the most successful independent contractors connect with employers through the PeopleCaddie network to advocate not only for their careers but for their lives outside of work – whether that means working remotely, traveling or taking time off to recharge. Burnout can be avoided if employers and employees communicate and work together to ensure each is receiving what it needs from the other.

Interested in learning more about the PeopleCaddie talent cloud? Click here to find out how it works.

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