This article originally appeared in Forbes by Bryan Robinson
A 2019 survey by Mental Health America polled the attitudes of 17,000 employees across 19 U.S. industries. They found that 70% of the current workforce is searching for other jobs, and roughly 50% are checked out. Among the reasons are excessive overtime hours, a workplace that doesn’t encourage teamwork and a boss who doesn’t allow work flexibility.
A Culture Of Sacrifice
Companies that look for ways to get a greater bang for their buck—“cultures of sacrifice”—put profit over employee welfare. They want to make sure every dollar spent contributes to the organization’s growth, sacrificing the mental health of the employees. They operate from top to bottom through a structure that strips management layers in order to remain competitive, employing four people to do the work of five.
Power picnics have replaced company picnics, once a family affair, so that companies can squeeze in more work during the annual event. And Power lunches have replaced office lunch breaks. Excessive corporate demand, combined with wireless technology, risks company exploitation of employees who feel they must be “always on” 24/7. Some organizations set tight deadlines, make unreasonable demands or heighten the pace expecting employees to change tires going eighty miles an hour. Others create a climate of threat, hinting at nonexistent competitors, telling workers that clients are dissatisfied and their jobs are in jeopardy even when they are not. These corporate tactics create paranoia, stress and a prolonged adrenaline rush among the workforce; employees never know for sure which crises are real and which are fabrications. In cultures of sacrifice, corporate survival reigns supreme, and the company is prepared to sacrifice excellent employees at any cost.
The State Of Burnout in 2020: Study 1
Between February 14-24, 2020, Blind—an Anonymous Professional Network where 2.8M+ professionals worldwide share advice, provide honest feedback, improve company culture and discover relevant career information related to burnout— conducted a survey of 3,921 working professionals. Findings showed that 61% are burned out with Marketing and Communications companies (74.8%) experiencing the most burnout, and Philadelphia had the least amount of burnt-out employees. The overall top reasons cited for burnout were:
- 25.3% Unmanageable workload
- 15.7% Insufficient rewards
- 10.2% Unfair treatment
- 12.2% Burnout is not a problem here
- 13.4% Lack of support from manager
- 8.3% Other
- 15% Lack of control over work
Oracle had the highest number of burnt-out employees, and Bloomberg had the least number. The 10 most burned out companies were:
- Oracle 78.6%
- T-Mobile 76.5%
- Apple 76.2%
- Cruise Automation 75%
- PayPal 71.9%
- Splunk 70.6%
- Groupon 68.8%
- JPMorgan Chase & Co. 68.4%
- Wayfair 68.2%
- Lyft 66.7%
The 10 least Burned out companies were:
- Bloomberg 38.5%
- Intuit 42.1%
- Zillow Group 44.4%
- Salesforce 48.1%
- IBM 50%
- SAP 52.2%
- NVIDIA 52.4%
- Intel Corporation 53.4%
- eBay 54.5%
- Workday 57.1%
The State Of Burnout in 2020: Study 2
A second study conducted in March of 2020 by Limeade surveyed 1,000 full-time employees. Findings showed that employers are falling short, and employees are suffering and quitting their jobs because of it. Their key findings were:
- 44% of burnt-out employees constantly or often resent their employers.
- One in 3 employees have left a job because they didn’t believe their employer cared about them as a person.
- 47% of employees who disclosed a mental health issue at work experienced a negative consequence by doing so.
- 38% of employees have been asked by a colleague to leave a job with them and will leave in pairs if conditions get bad enough.
- Nearly half (48%) of employees don’t believe their employer’s diversity and inclusion efforts are genuine.
- Burnt-out employees are twice as likely to have tried to convince another colleague to leave the job with them.
The State Of Burnout in 2020: Study 3
A third study of 1,170 respondents by Celebrity Cruises found that lack of balance leads to burnout. The survey revealed what employees value in a happy, productive career:
- 48% said work is their number 1 stressor, yet 1 in 8 employees did not take time off in the past year.
- 49.8% said they felt more productive immediately after returning from a getaway.
- Vacation-less workaholics reported feeling 30% more stressed than employees who took at least 2 or more vacations.
- Employees’ biggest objections to vacationing was “not enough money,” followed by lack of days off and too much work.
Don’t Sweep Burnout Under The Rug
Today’s workplace is an always-on environment that extends beyond the physical office. New HR technology enables companies to virtually deliver the tools, resources and communications employees need to do their jobs efficiently. But employees aren’t robots. When more is asked of them to push harder, workers need additional support to maintain their personal well-being and levels of performance asked of them to achieve. In a job market where employees have the upper hand, they’re willing to move to an organization that will do a better job of fulfilling these needs.
Burnout happens when employees are highly engaged, but don’t get the support they need to maintain their personal well-being. It’s a real, documented occupational phenomenon—last year, the World Health Organization even added the syndrome to its International Classification of Diseases. In the Limeade study, only 25% of employees said their employers have discussed or acknowledged the possibility of burnout at work with their employees. But burnout is common, and it’s important for employers to remember to acknowledge their own roles in burnout. Employee care should be at the core of any action. Tackling burnout is about identifying problem areas, tracking them, intervening at the group level and constantly working to resolve the issues. But it’s also about training HR and managers to spot the signs of burnout and create a safe environment to show employees you have the resources to help them recover.
Circumventing the leading causes of burnout keeps morale high and overhead costs low, a win-win for both companies and employees. Whether you’re an employer determined to create a mentally healthy workplace or an employee dead set on finding one, the beginning point is a job where employees feel valued and supported, not a place where you must sacrifice your personal well-being to shine. A mentally healthy workspace is a positive environment where your employer shows respect for your personal life outside the office—one where companies have an awareness of and promote the importance of mental health wellness and you feel comfortable discussing mental health concerns without fear of discrimination or stigma.