Some of your employees probably are burned out or have experienced burnout within the last year, whether you realize it or not. This last year has brought on emotional and physical challenges as employers pushed employees to meet increasing demands. According to a survey by Visier, 89% of employees report experiencing burnout over the past year. Moreover, employees are willing to do something about being burned out, even if that means leaving their current employer. The survey found that 70% of employees would quit their job to work for a different company offering resources to reduce burnout.
The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as a “special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” The physical impact on employees goes beyond exhaustion. Unaddressed job burnout can have significant health consequences, including insomnia, alcohol or substance misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and more.
Understanding the strain that burnout places upon employees, Visier conducted a survey of full-time workers in the U.S. to find out how widespread the problem is and identifying the root causes of burnout. Hopefully, with an understanding of the cause of burnout, employers and managers do their best to reduce their employee’s stress and improve retention.
The survey revealed that the leading cause of burnout was extra work that employees have been expected to do since the pandemic. When survey respondents were asked to rate their current workload, 55% of respondents had a higher workload than before the pandemic. As an employer or manager, knowledge of workload being a significant contributor to burnout means we should reflect on an assignment before handing it out to a team member. Should we actually be asking for more staff to handle the increased demands on the team? If we can’t get more staff, can we shift priorities or deadlines? If the answers to those questions are no, that potentially puts managers and companies in a lose-lose situation. With increased workload being the number one cause of burnout, resignations at a high, and 70% of employees willing to leave their organization for one with better resources to reduce burnout, companies could lose the employee assign extra work. Losing a team member won’t help the team’s workload problem and will cost the company money to replace them.
Other significant contributors to feelings of burnout include toxic workplace culture, being asked to complete work faster, being micromanaged, and a lack of control in the workplace. Many of these are items that managers can also directly impact. Having discussions to collaboratively set realistic deadlines or shift priorities to focus on top things will help employees know where to focus while enabling them to have a voice in their workload.
Most employees in the survey indicated that the benefits that would have the most impact on alleviating burnout would be increased flexibility and support. Companies looking to prevent or solve existing burnout need to attack the root causes while creating better infrastructure and practices. Solutions need to be holistic and look at what high-level organizational changes need to occur while creating an action plan to support employees immediately. Companies can empower their people-leaders by educating them on burnout, giving talking points for discussing it with their team, sharing documents listing available resources, and developing a framework to alleviate specific causes of burnout for each employee. Senior leaders also need to see what policies and procedures could impact the entirety of the organization, like analyzing the company’s culture, paid time off practices, and mental health resources.