Survey Finds Toxic Workplace a Key Driver to Burnout

07 Jun, 2022 F.J. Thomas



Sarasota, FL ( – Burnout has been a chronic issue at a global level the last couple of years, and is one of the key factors that can impact the bottom line in the workplace. Employers are taking note, and are focusing more than ever on employee health by offering health benefits from yoga to time management classes - but is that focus enough?

Employees commonly cite problems in the workplace that can’t be addressed through mental health programs. While employers are investing more than they ever have in employee mental health in an attempt to retain talent and avoid workers compensation claims, some experts believe that employers are over confident in their increased efforts, resulting in a failure to acknowledge and address the actual causes. While learning resiliency and adaptability skills may help, they do not fully compensate for unresolved toxic issues in the workplace.

During the first quarter of this year, McKinsey Health Institute released a global scale survey to 15,000 employees and 1,000 HR managers to assess some of the workplace factors contributing to burnout. Analysts reviewed key components such as toxic workplace behavior, inclusivity, sustainability, supportive growth environment, discrimination, organization accountability, leadership engagement, and resources. Health issues that were analyzed included burnout symptoms, distress, depression, and anxiety. These components were cross-referenced with intent to leave, engagement, employee advocacy, and satisfaction.

According to the McKinsey report, toxic workplace behavior is interpersonal behavior that causes employees to feel unvalued, belittled, or unsafe. Such behaviors can include non-inclusive actions, unethical behavior by leadership, and abuse by management, sabotage, and degradation.

On a global scale, toxic workplace behavior was the biggest driver of intent to leave. According to the survey, employees in toxic work environments were eight times more likely to report burnout symptoms. Additionally, those employees with burnout symptoms were six times more likely to leave their employer within the next three to six months. The same theme rang true for those employees with high adaptability, as they were 60 percent more likely to leave toxic organizations than those with low adaptability.The analysts found that addressing other organizational factors does not improve burnout or intent to leave in cases where the workplace is extremely toxic.

Overall, the analysts concluded that high rates of burnout are a sign that the employer organization itself needs change, not just the individual employees. While it may be difficult to turn around a toxic workplace, employers stand a better chance using a holistic approach and asking some key questions. Some of those key questions include:

  • Are we an inclusive work environment?
  • Do we enable sustainable work?
  • Do we encourage individual growth?
  • Are leaders held accountable?
  • Are employees needs met through the resources we offer?
  • Are we effective at tackling stigma?







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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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