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New Survey of U.S. Workers Reveals Priority Shifts, Desire for Workplace Burnout Reduction Strategies

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A new survey from Eagle Hill Consulting reveals that more than half of the U.S. workforce is burnt out, with younger workers feeling the most strain, at 62 percent. Workers say that implementing a four-day work week and reducing workload would alleviate stress. And as the workforce shortage continues and quit rates reach historic levels, more than one-third of the workforce plans to leave their job in the next 12 months. More than half of workers polled (51 percent) say the pandemic has triggered a re-evaluation of their personal priorities. 

“Both employers and employees are near the breaking point,” says Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Employers are struggling to find workers, and employees are stressed at work. Unfortunately, the workforce situation likely will worsen before it gets better. The so-called Great Resignation means that employers must start a Great Re-Evaluation, re-thinking everything from their culture to how work gets done.” 

The survey’s key findings are as follows:

  • Asked if they are feeling burnout at work, 53 percent of working Americans said yes, with women at 56 percent and men slightly lower at 51 percent. Burnout is highest among younger workers (62 percent for those aged 18 to 34), followed by mid-career workers (58 percent for those aged 35 to 54), and lowest among older workers (33 percent for those 55 and older). 
  • When asked about the causes of burnout, employees say their workload is the top culprit (52 percent), followed by a lack of communication (44 percent), juggling work and personal life (35 percent), time pressures (32 percent), a lack of clarity about expectations (27 percent), not feeling connected to their colleagues (25 percent), performance expectations (24 percent), not feeling connected to the company vision, culture, and values (23 percent), and not feeling empowered (22 percent). 
  • When asked how to reduce burnout, 83 percent said a four-day work week would help. That was especially true for women and younger workers. Other options included increased flexibility (84 percent), decreased workload (82 percent), better health and wellness (78 percent), reduced administrative burdens (76 percent), more on-site amenities (73 percent), working from home (67 percent), and the ability to relocate or work from multiple locations (58 percent). 
  • One-third of employees indicate they plan to leave their organization in the next 12 months, up from 26 percent in November 2020 and 29 percent in May 2021. The planned departure rates are even higher for younger workers (41 percent for 18 to 34-year-old workers), followed by mid-career workers (35 percent for 35 to 54-year-old workers), and 20 percent for those 55 and older. 
  • The pandemic has triggered many employees to re-think their lives and careers. More than half (51 percent) say the pandemic has caused a re-evaluation of personal priorities, especially for younger workers (65 percent). Thirty-one percent of employees say the pandemic has them considering changing careers, with 34 percent considering changing employers and 21 percent thinking of changing where they live. 

These findings are from a workforce survey from Eagle Hill Consulting, a woman-owned business, conducted by Ipsos from August 11-16, 2021. The 2021 Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Workforce Burnout Survey included 1,010 respondents from a random sample of employees across the United States. The survey polled respondents on burnout and retention in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Employee burnout was simmering even before the pandemic, and now it’s boiled over for more than half of workers,” says Jezior. “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. It’s complicated, because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, a four-day work week may work well for some businesses, but it’s impossible for others.”   

She adds, “One bright spot in our research—two-thirds of workers say they value their employer more since the pandemic. Smart employers will dig in to find out exactly what employees value so they can leverage the positive to retain those employees.”   

About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.