How job burnout is impacting today’s employees

What are the leading causes of burnout? And what can employers do address them?

5 minutes

May 30, 2023 Adecco

A worker sits in their car, stressed

From heavy workloads to tight deadlines everyone can feel stressed out at work sometimes. But when that stress pushes workers to feel exhausted, anxious and burnt out, even to a debilitating level, it becomes a serious problem, not just for your individual workers but for your entire team and organization.

And while the pandemic brought a wave of public health problems to the global population it also brought a wave of employee burnout to the workplace. Frontline employees, including healthcare, retail, and manufacturing workers, faced with labor shortages, increased workload, and fears of layoffs, experienced burnout at record levels, even to the point where the Office of the Surgeon General issued statements encouraging the healthcare industry to address high levels of employee distress.

Unfortunately, these high levels of job burnout have persisted since the pandemic, with workers turning to other careers, strikes, and leaving the workforce to combat intense feelings of stress and exhaustion. So, what exactly is causing this high level of employee burnout and what can companies do to stop it?

Causes of today’s job burnout:

  1. Labor shortages
  2. Today, the US is still facing a severe labor shortage making it difficult for organizations to fill all necessary positions. The most recent data shows that there are 9.9 million job openings, yet only 5.8 million available workers. This shortage of 4.1 million employees is creating undue stress on remaining workers, who often must work more hours or take on other roles in order to fill this gap.

    And the gap is felt hardest amongst frontline workers. Both blue collar and white collar workers alike are feeling the pressure as the manufacturing industry is currently down 400,000 workers, the retail industry saw 1 million jobs unfilled in 2022, and the healthcare industry is missing 37,200 workers.

  3. Safety concerns
  4. When employees are exhausted, stressed and expected to perform unfamiliar tasks quickly, accidents occur. These accidents in turn give employees more anxiety about coming to work, leaving many to feel burnt out and exit the workforce.

    This is felt strongly in the healthcare industry where tired and overworked clinicians, biomanufacturers, and office workers make mistakes that can affect the lives of millions. 99% of clinicians reported that labor shortages and burnout can result in decreased quality of care. Fear of malpractice due to exhaustion leads clinicians to feel more anxious and burnt out at work, creating a potentially deadly cycle of stress and job burnout.

    Blue collar workers experience safety concerns due to labor shortages and a lack of onboarding training. Because of high turnover and labor gaps many manufacturing and retail companies are wanting new employees to hit the ground running as fast as possible – even rushing important training in the hopes of shrinking labor gaps. This can include important occupational safety guidelines that can affect the welfare of entire teams. As a result, many employees feel anxious working alongside untrained hires, bringing more anxiety to the workplace.

  5. Layoffs leave remaining workers with more responsibilities
  6. Layoffs have been hitting the tech and retail industries hard in 2023. Losing valued coworkers and gaining their job duties puts a lot of stress on remaining workers, leading to increased employee burnout and decreased engagement. Not to mention remaining workers still need to operate under the anxiety of wondering if they will be the next worker to be let go.

    Layoffs can also lead to low morale and productivity as employees are upset about the loss of workers and friends. These feelings often lead to job burnout which is made worse by the redistribution of tasks, adding more stress and responsibilities to a worker’s already full plate.

  7. Emotional labor leads to exhaustion
  8. Emotional labor is defined as managing one’s emotions and expressions in order to fill the professional requirements of a job. Emotional labor is especially high for frontline workers who must directly interact with patients, customers, clients, and even other team members.

    The toll of having to put a smile on in the face of demanding customers or remain stoic when delivering a dire diagnosis accumulates, leaving frontline workers exhausted by completing day-to-day job requirements. One recent study about healthcare workers found that those who performed emotional labor were almost 60% more likely to experience emotional exhaustion. This emotional exhaustion, unsurprisingly, leads to physical exhaustion and employee burnout.

How Adecco can help

If you’re wondering how to deal with burnout, then look no further than Adecco’s onsite services. We have the tools to effectively overhaul your organization, putting optimal procedures in place to keep employees safe, engaged, and emotionally supported. Here’s how:

  1. Effective onboarding and training
  2. In the rush to fill labor shortages many companies make the mistake of rushing through onboarding training. By leaving the training to us, we’ll ensure that all new hires receive proper safety education and get them ready to hit the floor in less time. Your current employees won’t feel anxious about working alongside new employees who can potentially cause accidents, nor will they fill the need to take on additional responsibilities to help train new hires themselves.

  3. Improve employee engagement
  4. Our onsite teams have a proven track record of enhancing engagement while reducing employee turnover.  For one of our clients in Florida, we helped create a community centered atmosphere at work, including providing beverages and making sure employees were comfortable in their current working environment. As a result, turnover decreased (we averaged just 13.9% monthly turnover in 2022) and workers felt more engaged in their roles.

  5. Hosting events for employees
  6. For many workers experiencing burnout, they feel like a cog in the machine, and that their employer doesn’t see them as anything but a worker. We at Adecco understand this and have implemented work events as part of our onsite offerings.  We’ve historically held at least one event per week (often times more) in order to help employees feel seen and show that really matter to their organization. Consequently, more workers reported higher engagement and less stress at work.

If you’re ready to learn how to deal with burnout, contact us today to speak with an experienced workforce consultant. Additionally, read our employer resources for more information about burnout and other feelings your team may be experiencing. No matter how big your organization is or what industry you fall into we’re ready to help.