Job fatigue is on the rise, and we’ve got the employee burnout statistics to prove it. With workers leaving their chosen professions in droves and companies scrambling for ways to keep their current workforce happy and engaged, it’s crucial to understand where employee stress comes from and how it can affect your team and your bottom line.
Check out our burnout statistics 2023 round-up and learn more about the quiet trend putting so many businesses and workers at risk.
What is employee burnout?
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined employee burnout as an occupational phenomenon that occurs because of unmanaged, chronic workplace stress. The WHO also laid out the three criteria required for work-related stress to be classified as burnout. The employee must experience:
Flagging energy and/or exhaustion
Increasingly negative feelings toward their job and/or increasingly feeling distanced from job responsibilities and workplace operations
A downturn in professional efficacy
Causes of employee burnout
Burnout at work statistics tell us who’s feeling burned out, but it’s also important to understand why burnout happens. A Gallup report attributed the five main causes of burnout to:
Unfair treatment in the workplace
Workloads that are unmanageable and/or unrealistic
Lack of clarity regarding job expectations
Poor communication and support from the management team
That same report showed that employees who felt they experienced unfair treatment at work were more than twice as likely to experience serious burnout.
What percentage of employees are burned out?
The current statistics on burnout at work indicate that most employees experienced feeling overworked and worn out at some point in their professional lives.
Over half of women in leadership positions say they feel burned out on a consistent basis.
Employees are more likely to feel burned out if they’re also caring for young children. A study on parental burnout found that 68% of working moms are burned out compared to 42% of working dads.
Pandemic-related burnout was particularly tough on older generations. Burnout amongst baby boomers increased from 24% pre-pandemic to 31% today. Gen Xer burnout rates jumped 14 points from 40% pre-pandemic to 54% today.
Income can also affect burnout rates. Employees with mid-level income in the $30,000 to $60,000 range experience a burnout rate around 40% versus a burnout rate of 38% for those making $100,000 and above annually.
Remote workers are also more likely to experience stress and burnout.
What profession has the highest rate of burnout?
Burnout doesn’t discriminate. Workers in a wide variety of industries experience the exhaustion and rising disinterest that comes with unmanageable workplace stress. But some professions put workers in environments that amplify that stress, leading to higher-than-average burnout rates. Here are some industry-specific employee burnout statistics.
The top 5 most stressful jobs
All jobs come with the potential for workplace stress and eventual burnout. However, some professions put employees at even greater risk.
Healthcare: In May 2022, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory addressing the country’s health worker burnout crisis. Dr. Murthy referenced pre-COVID burnout statistics that showed up to 54% of nurses and physicians and 60% of medical students and residents were suffering from burnout. Those numbers rose during the pandemic. Experts now project a nationwide shortage of more than 3 million essential low-wage health workers in the next five years and a shortage of nearly 140,000 physicians by 2033.
Social workers: Social workers often work odd hours to answer the call of duty whenever a client is in distress. However, the biggest pressure comes from exposure to first- and second-hand trauma. Bearing witness to emotional and physical abuse is just one reason 75% of social workers experience burnout at least once during their career.
Fast food and retail workers: Employees of retail stores work in fast-paced environments where they’re frequently subject to customer abuse and have little control over their schedules. Often, these taxing positions come with low pay and negligible benefits, making retail and fast-food work high risk for burnout with less possibility of professional reward. Unsurprisingly, half of frontline retail workers surveyed for a recent study said they were planning on quitting their jobs. Of those, 58% attributed their decision to burnout. 53% said they were influenced by a lack of appreciation from their peers and management.
Design workers: Graphic designers and other creatively driven workers might appear relatively immune to workplace stress, but that appears to be a misnomer. Over half of people in design jobs say they experience burnout, mostly due to pressure from clients with unrealistic expectations, difficulty adapting to ever-changing job specs and problems with unclear feedback.
Business development/sales: Workers specializing in business development and sales are frequently expected to work non-traditional hours, meeting with clients when they’d otherwise be off the clock and traveling to make deals and meet quotas. Some 44% even work while on vacation. This blurs the line between professional obligations and self-care, contributing to burnout.
What profession has the lowest burnout rate?
Burnout statistics for 2022 show not only the professionals with the highest burnout rates but also those jobs that encourage better work-life balance and therefore lower risk of exhaustion.
When deciding how to measure employee burnout, experts weighed factors such as physical demands, environmental concerns, potential on-the-job hazards and how likely an employee could experience an injury or witness an injury of a direct subordinate. Other considerations include the amount of travel required, the competitive aspects of the job/field, whether there’s consistent exposure to public opinion, whether the employee works on deadline and overall growth potential.
Given all that, researchers say these five jobs are the least stressful and therefore present the lowest risk for burnout:
Diagnostic medical sonographer
Tenured university professor
Why do employees get burned out? And is it becoming more common?
Curious why some people experience burnout more than others? Statistics on employee burnout show there are a wide variety of reasons that certain demographics may feel and be affected by stress more than others, but problematic or high-pressure work environments, outside stressors and personal mindset may also play a role.
As those factors have grown in intensity over the last few years, at least partly because of the pandemic, burnout has grown more common as well.
Remote work has become increasingly common over the last few years, spurred on by pandemic-related closures and a continued desire to encourage social distancing. But even as some companies brought employees back to the office, other organizations have continued to experiment with full-time remote work and hybrid models in which team members split their time between the home office and company HQ.
Does working remotely promote better work-life balance and therefore reduce the likelihood of employee burnout? These statistics on work-from-home employee burnout indicate that working remotely is anything but a cure-all for exhaustion.
86% of remote workers are experiencing burnout in their current positions, while 70% of in-person workers report the same feelings — hybrid workers sit somewhere in the middle at about 81%
25% of on-site workers felt the COVID-19 pandemic had little to no impact on burnout rates, while a mere 13% of work-from-home colleagues felt the same way
Over half of remote workers say they’re working more hours virtually or at home than they did when they worked from the office, with one-third saying they’re working “much more” compared to pre-pandemic numbers
These burnout statistics make sense considering the struggle many remote workers experience while trying to meet professional expectations in a personal environment. Employees working from home have a more difficult time unplugging from work and can’t easily escape everyday pressures such as childcare and housekeeping. While 38% of work-from-home employees say they’ve increased their hours in response to pressure from management, 21% say it’s a combination of pressure from managers and customers/clients. Compare that to the 43% of on-site workers who say the pressure they feel is entirely self-imposed.
How burnout affects organizations and overall operations
It’s clear how burnout can negatively impact employees suffering from disillusionment and fatigue, but the ripple effect from fatigue affects leadership and the parent organization as well.
91% of employees say unmanaged stress and frustration in the workplace negatively affect the quality of their work
57% of employers believe burnout directly affects their company’s turnover and retention rates
Despite burnout’s classification as a syndrome that only occurs in the workplace, 36% of workers report their companies are doing nothing to help prevent employees from burning out. The disconnect continues, with more work burnout statistics that suggest there’s a serious gap between what employees need to succeed and what many employers are currently providing:
86% of employers say they’re still prioritizing mental health, stress and burnout response
49% of employers still don’t have a formal strategy for supporting well-being in the workplace
26% of employers say they already have a well-being strategy in place
How to spot and address employee burnout
Identifying and reducing employee burnout can help organizations shore up their workforce and scale while also taking care of their employees. Train your team to look for the following signs that employees are having trouble managing stress:
Evidence of ongoing mental and/or physical fatigue
Increasingly cynical attitude toward employer
Negative comments about job
Mentions of feeling stuck or overwhelmed
Declining job performance
In the latter half of 2021, a Gallup poll found that nearly half of employees in the United States were actively looking for new jobs, a trend quickly titled The Great Resignation. The employee burnout statistics for 2022 shared above paint a stunning picture of the reasons behind this surge in job searches, but employers can improve employee retention, productivity rates and morale by addressing the main causes of burnout: stress, poor communication and lack of support.
For employers seeking to hire new employees, it’s worth keeping in mind that workplace flexibility is often at the top of prospective new hires’ lists of demands. A recent study by McKinsey showed that a flexible working arrangement was the third-most popular reason folks sought a new job. In fact, providing such benefits has been shown to be the number one reason that employers were able to lure prospective employees back into the workforce following the early phases of COVID-19.
Limeade helps organizations focus on employee well-being, giving management insight into what their employees need to have happier, healthier careers. Learn more about how to tackle your workplace burnout challenges by visiting our ultimate guide for overcoming employee burnout. For more information on how Limeade can help you prevent employee burnout, book a demo today.
Despite the pandemic, Gallup reports a sharp drop in the percentage of employees who strongly agree that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing. Check out this guide on how to reduce employee attrition with a well-being program.