American Employees Facing Record Burnout, Survey Shows

12 Nov, 2021 Liz Carey

                               

Tampa, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – A new study has found that 2 in 3 American employees are currently feeling burned out, and it’s costing U.S. companies nearly $300 billion per year. 

That burnout can also result in workplace accidents, experts said, increasing employers workers’ compensation costs. 

This fall, ResumeLab surveyed more than 1,000 workers across the country, about burnout. They found that 67 percent of their respondents reported that they are currently burned out, while 88 percent said they have faced burnout at some point in their careers. Nearly half (40 percent) said they had faced burnout more than twice in their careers. 

A similar study by Eagle Hill Consulting found that 62 percent of workers surveyed said they were experiencing burnout. Of those about a third said they were considering quitting because of it. 

More than half those surveyed (52 percent) said that the number one cause of burnout is their workload, followed by lack of communication (44 percent), juggling work and personal life (35 percent), time pressures (32 percent), lack of clarity on expectations (27 percent), and not feeling connected to their colleagues (25 percent). 

The situation creates a vicious cycle, said Melissa Jezior, president and CEO of Eagle Hill. Workers quit because of burnout, leaving fewer workers and a harder workload for the remaining employees, which leads to burnout in those workers, and a desire to quit. 

"Both employers and employees are near the breaking point. Employers are struggling to find workers, and employees are stressed at work," Jezior said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the workforce situation likely will worsen before it gets better, with one-third of the workforce planning to leave their job soon. ... Employee burnout was simmering even before the pandemic, and now it's boiled over for more than half of workers. It's simply an unsustainable situation for a business when burnout is rising and the labor shortage continues. This means leaders must fully understand what is working and what isn't for employees, and then collaborate on specific solutions that will work for an organization's business strategy and the workforce.” 

Recently the World Health Organization recognized burnout as an occupational health issue. While it is not recognized as such by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, burnout can cause workplace injuries, experts say. 

Jason Kobal with Kobal Law in Tampa said burnout can lead to accidents at work. 

“Employees who experience burnout are characterized as anxious, irritable, stressed-out, and prone to negative and cynical thoughts regarding their job. Worker burnout may also increase an employee’s risk of a workplace accident,” he said on his blog. “Burnout can impact overall employee safety. A burned-out worker may begin to respond slower to emergency situations, misuse machinery or equipment, or drive inattentively.” 

While it is a workplace health concern, Kobal said, it might be hard to have covered by workers’ compensation. 

“Under certain circumstances, Florida workers suffering from burnout may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits that would cover their medical expenses, if any, as well as the loss of income,” Kobal said. “However, proving that employee burnout is a workers’ comp injury can be tricky, especially if the employer argues that the worker is to blame for aggravating or being unable to properly manage their condition.” 

To prevent burnout in employees, ResumeLabs survey found that employees don’t want mental health and wellness programs as much as they want changes in their work environment. 

In its survey, ResumeLabs found that employees most want a reasonable workload (49 percent), and flexible working arrangements (44 percent). Other options, the survey found, were remote work, fewer working hours and more paid time off. Only 23 percent of those surveyed said they thought mental health and wellness programs would help their employers combat burnout. 

“Interestingly, ‘access to mental health and wellness programs’ was the least picked option,” researchers said. “While this perk was already common before COVID-19 (81% of large employers offered them), its popularity has skyrocketed starting from the infamous spring of 2020. That said, most employees don’t find them helpful in dealing with burnout. On top of it, a new Health Affairs study suggests such programs neither make workers healthier nor save companies money.”


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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