Workers Report High Rates of Burn Out and Worry — Here’s How to Help | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Workers Report High Rates of Burn Out and Worry — Here’s How to Help

By Joanna Fragopoulos

We are in an era of burnout. And it makes sense: People have a lot to contend with right now, from the concerning effects of climate change, the economic downturn, political uncertainty and strife, technological changes, and the lingering shadows of COVID-19.

Employees, needless to say, are overwhelmed keeping up with it all — even when the changes may be positive (such as certain tech advancements). Catching a break seems harder and harder when there's something new happening almost every day, it seems.

According to new findings from Robert Half, 38 percent of U.S. professionals reported "being more burned out now than a year ago," based on a survey polling 2,400 people. The numbers paint a picture, and it isn't quite pretty; the survey shows that "one in five say their manager has taken no action to alleviate work-related stress" and "nearly three in 10 feel they can't take time off this summer." The most alarming finding, however, shows that employees are reticent to speak up, as 37 percent "feel uneasy about expressing feelings of burnout with their boss."

The primary reason for the feelings of stress and burnout are due to large workloads, as 56 percent reported feeling overwhelmed. These feelings are likely heightened by outside economic factors, such as the possible recession; for instance, another study conducted by Robert Half found "that 81 percent of employees worry about rising prices and interest rates," and "76 percent worry about the overall economy."

None of these findings are particularly surprising considering the overall landscape; if people aren't worried about job security, rising costs are looming overhead, causing many people to feel pessimistic or even bleak (which The Atlantic discussed here).

That being said, the stress can be managed and alleviated. It's just a matter of employers and managers setting realistic expectations and providing resources and support, as well as other forms of relief. A Robert Half article on employee mental health states that managers "can also give remote employees more flexibility by suggesting windowed working. This simply means allowing them to break up their workday with breaks to take care of personal responsibilities, from laundry to childcare. Even just knowing that they're not chained to their computers from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. and can step away when needed can be a huge mental relief — and even more so when they need to take a windowed break to go grocery shopping. Bonus: When they get back, they'll likely be fresh and refocused."

Ultimately, it's about meeting people where they are and finding solutions. Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half, stated that "refreshed and recharged workers are happier, more productive and less likely to burn out. To discourage hustle culture and find better balance, managers must set clear and realistic expectations, and workers need to prioritize self-care and protect their personal time. Contract professionals can step in to help ensure projects stay on track and workloads remain manageable."

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Joanna Fragopoulos is a director of editorial and content development at ANA.