Regence and Portland business leaders discuss employee burnout, workplace mental health and the future of our workforce

By Regence
May 24, 2022
PBJ Regence panel

While day-to-day life has slowly started to feel more normal, COVID’s impact on our country will last for years. The pandemic brought historic uncertainty and disruption to our lives, especially our workforce.

As a result, employee burnout in the Portland area more than doubled since the start of that pandemic, according to a recent survey conducted by Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon and the Portland Business Journal.

Business leaders recently gathered to hear a related panel discussion about how the pandemic changed their teams and the resulting impact of burnout in their workforce. This included Jared Short, CEO of Regence Health Plans; Kathryn Correia, CEO of Legacy Health; Sarah Hansen, vice president of Human Resources for Dutch Bros; and Orlando Williams, CEO and chief equity officer for Motus Recruiting.

From the panelists

The panelists offered their perspectives on topics such as employee retention, communication and leading a mission-centric organization.

“We come to work every day to be person-focused, to help people not fall through the cracks,” said Jared Short. “Our time right now is to make an impactful difference that is mission-centric to what we do every day. I think it’s allowed us to retain employees and attract employees. There is a resiliency that comes out when people realize that they are able to make that connection to values.”

Panelists also discussed how it’s important to support the unique needs of employees and their work environments. Sarah Hansen noted how employees at Dutch Bros are given permission to not have a great day and, “be able to share that with their leader in advance and ask for breathing room or support.”

What do we do when we burn out, we take time away. We recharge,” said Orland Williams. “We go to the things we enjoy and those are the things that allow us an opportunity to refresh. But unfortunately if you’re a person of color or you’re a woman, you don’t get to turn that off. You don’t get to take a break from your gender. You don’t get to take a break from your color or your ethnicity and so as a result of that, the pandemic has just accelerated and exacerbated how people have dealt with that.”

“We have to look for hope,” Kathryn Correia said. “And the hope comes when we develop new ways, new innovative ways of helping all of us, both in health care and external to health care, deal with the mental health burden that is going to have a long tail after COVID.”

Mental health resources

Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on, or call us for help finding the right behavioral health resources.

Watch the full panel discussion below: