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The Burnout Dilemma: Progress and Challenges in the U.S. Workforce

September 11, 2023

While employee burnout is on a slow decline, it remains a significant concern within the U.S. workforce, according to the latest research from Eagle Hill Consulting. The study reveals that currently, 45% of employees report experiencing burnout, which is a decrease from the 49% reported in August 2022 and an even more significant decline from the 58% recorded in August 2020. However, younger workers, at 52%, and women, at 48%, still report the highest levels of burnout.

The primary sources of burnout, as indicated by the surveyed employees, include:
  • Workload (51%)
  • Staff shortages (45%)
  • Work + life balance (42%)

A substantial majority of workers, around 67%, believe that transitioning to a four-day workweek could help alleviate their stress. 65% express a desire for a reduced workload and increased flexibility, while 56% favor continuing to work from home as a means to reduce stress.

Regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI), it appears that most employees, at 62%, do not anticipate any significant impact on their stress levels at work due to this emerging technology. Nevertheless, recent research suggests that AI, when implemented effectively, can enhance employee efficiency and productivity. Millennials, at 30%, and male employees, at 27%, are more likely to believe that AI can assist in reducing job-related stress.

Melissa Jezior, President, and CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting, commented on the findings, saying, “It’s encouraging to see a downward trend in worker burnout levels since the peak stress period of the pandemic. However, employers should not become complacent in addressing employee burnout. The levels are still unacceptably high, and there is a possibility they may rise as more employees are required to return to in-person work. While employees value in-person work, concerns about work-life balance and commute times persist.”

Jezior also highlighted the survey’s novel exploration of AI’s potential impact on stress levels, emphasizing its importance as more companies adopt Generative AI. If handled effectively, AI has the potential to enable employees to achieve more in less time, thereby increasing their value to organizations. However, mishandling AI implementation could have the opposite effect, exacerbating rather than alleviating worker stress.

Other key findings from the survey include:
  • 84% of those experiencing burnout due to staff shortages report covering the workload for unfilled positions
  • 39% assist others in learning their job
  • 36% train new hires
  • 22% are involved in recruiting and interviewing new hires
  • 57% of employees now express discomfort in discussing their burnout with their manager or employer, representing a 5% decline from August 2022
When it comes to proposed solutions for reducing burnout:
  • Four-day workweek (67%)
  • Increased flexibility (65%)
  • Decreased workload (65%)
  • Improved health and wellness benefits (60%)
  • The option to work from home (56%),
  • Reduced administrative burdens (53%)
  • More on-site amenities (50%)
  • The ability to relocate or work from multiple locations (39%)

Alarmingly, nearly one-third of the workforce, or 32%, plans to leave their job within the next 12 months.

While there is a promising decline in employee burnout within the U.S. workforce, it remains a pressing concern, particularly among younger workers and women. The study underscores the significance of addressing burnout’s primary sources, such as workload, staff shortages, and the elusive work-life balance.

The call for change is evident. As we navigate the evolving landscape of work, it is crucial for employers to remain vigilant and proactive in fostering a healthier and more sustainable work environment, ensuring that the burnout trend continues to decline rather than resurge.

Source: Eagle Hill Consulting; CCH AnswersNow

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner, ASE


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