Today's Smart Brevity count: 900 words ... 3.5 minutes.
1 big thing: Why mental health is the next big workplace issue
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Employees' mental health is quickly becoming a top concern for companies as they try to hold on to workers through the pandemic, Erica Pandey reports.
Why it matters: The firms that confront mental health are poised to win the war for talent.
"These days there are worker shortages everywhere," says Chris Swift, CEO of The Hartford, a financial services and insurance company. Mental health is a massive contributor to that, he says.
What's happening: The pandemic has dragged on, and people are dealing with even more loss and isolation — at the same time that America's opioid crisis has gotten worse. Burnout and addiction are seeping into the workplace.
Despite the fact that we've gotten used to pandemic-era living, workplace burnout is rising. 44% of workers say they feel fatigued on the job, up from 34% in 2020, per a study conducted by the human resources consulting firm Robert Half.
Drug overdose deaths spiked 30% in 2020 — to nearly 100,000 — and the bulk were opioid overdoses, Bloomberg reports. The deaths and drug addictions are contributing to the overall worker shortage.
It's harming workplaces.
A whopping 52% of U.S. employers say they are “experiencing significant workplace issues” with substance misuse or addiction by employees, according to a new survey from The Hartford. That's up from 36% in March 2020.
31% of U.S. employers say workforce mental health is having a severe or significant financial impact on the company, up from just 20% in March 2020.
Employers can help by providing resources, like mental health days and online therapy sessions. But middle managers must also play a key role, experts say.
Wildfires are raging in Canada, the U.S. and Siberia, emitting carbon dioxide, soot and other planet-warming pollutants, while also destroying homes and fouling air quality, Axios' Andrew Freedman writes. Now new data shows just how large the fires' carbon footprint may be.
Until then, they will continue to emit greenhouse gases. The Siberian fires alone are emitting as much as individual countries do in a year, according to data from the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS).
By the numbers: According to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at CAMS, the two Canadian provinces contributing the most fire-related carbon dioxide emissions are British Columbia and Saskatchewan, while the Sakha Republic and Far Eastern Federal District of Russia are emitting the greatest amounts in Russia.
So far, the Siberian fires have emitted total emissions of about 1613.00 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent gases, which is on par with Indonesia's annual emissions in 2019, per numbers from The Rhodium Group.
It's also higher than emissions from Siberian fires last year, which was also an unusually severe fire season.
Anna Gradil writes from London: "We're seeing a new concept of grocery shopping popping up across the city.
"These plastic-free or zero-waste shops sell anything from Himalayan salt to lentils to shampoo and washing liquid. Leveraging the increased consumer demand for more sustainable shopping, these stores also change consumers' relationships with the brands. If you have the space only for 3 types of pasta, whether it's Barilla or the next best alternative, becomes less important.
"This doesn't mean that brands are completely invisible in the new concept — oat milk on tap is still well branded by the producer. You just need to bring your own bottle."
What's next: Tourist-free tourist hotspots
Jason M. Cronen writes from Thailand: "Despite the complete absence of tourists, an economy in shambles and a scary rise in COVID-19 cases that has halted all travel in the country including domestic flights, this has been my office for the best part of 2021. An empty beach in Than Sadet National Park, Ko Pha-ngan, Thailand, and a rare blue-sky day during monsoon season.
There’s no one around to distract me and the Wi-Fi is still faster than any network in New Orleans where I live, so I just sit on my blanket and work."