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The High Cost of Employee Burnout

A study with 7,500 full-time employees found that 23% feel burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% feel burned out sometimes. (Gallup)

That’s a whole lotta burnout.

Burnout, according to the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI),  is “a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job.” There are six signs of burnout:

  1. Overwhelming exhaustionGraphic Showing Too Many Ideas
  2. Cynicism and detachment
  3. A sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
  4. Low energy
  5. Lost enthusiasm
  6. Lack of confidence


What’s Causing Employee Burnout in Your Organization?   

The MBI researchers also defined three types of burnout: frenetic burnout where people are sacrificing their health and wellbeing for their jobs, underchallenged burnout where people are indifferent and bored, and worn-out burnout where people feel neglected, unacknowledged, and unimportant. 

Diagnosing which type of burnout that employees are experiencing will help determine how to respond. 

In general studies, these are the reasons employees gave for the burnout they experience:

  • Unfair compensation (41%), unreasonable workload (32%), and too much overtime / after-hours work (32%) are the top three contributors to employee burnout (Kronos)
  • Top sources of workplace stress: Heavy workload/looming deadlines (33%), Unrealistic expectations of managers (22%), Attaining work-life balance (22%), Coworker conflicts (15%) (Accountemps)
  • 87% of employers reported that employees feel the most stress in regard to their performance (Xerox)
  • According to Gallup, the primary drivers of workplace stress are:
    • Unreasonable deadlines
    • Unmanageable workload
    • Lack of support from managers
    • Necessity of responding to emails and texts during off hours

To download additional stats on employee engagement and burnout, check out this comprehensive resource from Access Perks.

What's the Impact When Employees Experience Burnout and Stress in the Workplace?

The impact of burnout and workplace stress is more than meets the eye. It’s tempting to accept burnout as “just part of the job.” You may feel like that’s the individual employee’s problem, not yours. You may even be grappling with your own feelings of burnout and can’t fathom dealing with other people’s burnout, too.

But there is an impact on business results. For starters:

  • 95% of human resource leaders admit employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention (Kronos)
  • 75% of employers ranked stress as their top health and productivity concern (Willis Towers Watson)
  • Job burnout accounts for over $125 billion in health-care spending each year and is a contributing factor to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol, and even death for those under age 45. (HBR/PLoS One)

And it’s just common sense. Who could possibly do their best work when they’re feeling overwhelmed, detached or ineffective?

These costs add up. Think about the cost of turnover alone. If burnout causes people to leave, you’re saddled with the costs related to candidate sourcing and recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and lost opportunities. And, when people leave, burnout is magnified for the people left behind to fill that gap. This is why burnout and turnover are contagious and can wreak havoc on output, quality, and results.

Next Steps for Combating Work-Related Burnout

To reduce workplace burnout, consider what works elsewhere:

  • 48% of workers say that investing more in professional development is one of the highest-impact strategies to fight stress that their company can do (Udemy)
  • 44% say their relationship with their employer positively (or negatively) impacts stress levels (Virgin Pulse)
  • Employees who feel supported by their manager are 70% less likely to experience burnout on a regular basis. (Gallup)

It’s noteworthy that these findings don’t say “reducing the amount of work” is the way to reduce burnout. To combat burnout, you have to let employees know – in real, tangible ways – that they matter to the organization and that you’re willing to invest time and interest in them.

People work hard, enjoy their work, and push themselves when they feel supported and ennobled. Be sure your managers know what it takes to give people these anecdotes to burnout.

Partner with People First Productivity Solutions to get your employees engaged today!

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