A Look at Employee Burnout in America

Employee burnout affects companies in all industries. Is your organization taking the right steps to combat it?

We all know what it feels like to get burnt out after long hours and quick deadlines. It’s a feeling that can be easy to overlook; it’s a byproduct of hard work, something fundamental, expected of everyone. However, employee burnout is becoming a major problem in the workforce, an “epidemic” as described by Forbes, that affects 95% of all businesses.

Many employees never take time to recharge or focus on personal wellness outside of work, even after professional deadlines have passed. They become overworked and frustrated, negatively impacting their own health and productivity. Significantly, they also become unsatisfied with their jobs, which in turn increases churn rates that employers have to deal with. Quartz reported that up to half of all employee attrition can be attributed to burnout.

Several factors have made burnout more prevalent in recent years. First, the work week has expanded beyond the standard nine to five, Monday through Friday. Americans work on average 47 hours per week, says Quartz. This change has not been matched by rising wages or additional vacation time. Second, office culture can discourage employees from taking time off. According to Project: Time Off: “More than a quarter [of workers surveyed] (26%) say they fear that taking vacation could make them appear less dedicated at work, just under a quarter (23%) say they do not want to be seen as replaceable, and more than a fifth (21%) say they worry they would lose consideration for a raise or promotion.” Third, technological advances mean that people don’t truly stop working when they’re finally out of the office. They’re often expected to pick up their phones and answer calls and emails, rather than take time to recharge.

Taking vacations, real vacations away from email, is a clear solution to the burnout crisis. Psychology Today identifies it as a way to breaking the stress cycle created by working too much. They also say vacation is important for physical and emotional health.

Employers should be paying attention to all of this. They need real solutions to prevent burnout, or employees and their companies will suffer when instead they could be creating a more vibrant workplace and investing in employee wellness.

Kevin Mulcahy, partner of Future Workplace put it well in a study with Kronos Incorporated, “As the economy continues to improve, the battle for talent will continue to heat up, requiring organizations to provide more compensation, expanded benefits, and a richer employee experience. Managers should pay close attention to make sure employees aren’t overworked while also promoting flexibility wherever possible.”