HR Management & Compliance

Think Your Employees Are Burned Out? It’s Not Just Your Imagination

A new study conducted by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace found 95% of Human Resource leaders admit employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention—but there is no obvious solution on the horizon.


In this national survey, 614 HR leaders—including Chief Human Resource Officers (CHRO), vice presidents of HR, HR directors, and HR managers from organizations with 100 to 2,500+ employees—provided a candid look at how burnout drives turnover, what causes it, and why there is no easy solution despite 87% of respondents calling improved retention a high/critical priority.

According to the survey, nearly half of HR leaders (46%) say employee burnout is responsible for up to half (20% to 50%, specifically) of their annual workforce turnover. And almost 10% blame employee burnout for causing more than 50% of workforce turnover each year.

Though burnout touches organizations of all sizes, larger organizations seem to suffer more. One in five HR leaders at organizations with 100 to 500 employees cited burnout as the cause of 10% or less of their turnover, while 15% of HR leaders at organizations larger than 2,500 employees say burnout causes 50% or more of annual turnover.

Unfair compensation (41%), unreasonable workload (32%), and too much overtime/after-hours work (32%) are the top three contributors to burnout, per the survey.

HR leaders also identified poor management (30%), employees seeing no clear connection of their role to corporate strategy (29%), and a negative workplace culture (26%) as key burnout factors.

Insufficient technology for employees to do their jobs was identified by 20% of HR leaders as another primary cause of burnout. This is more prevalent at larger organizations with more than 2,500 employees, where it was cited by 27% of respondents.

Finally, an overemphasis on recruiting to the detriment of retention could be a contributing factor: The survey found that 97% of HR leaders are planning to increase their investment in recruiting technology by the year 2020, including nearly a quarter (22%) who anticipate a 30% to 50% increase in such spending.

Yet budget was continually cited by HR leaders as a deterrent to programs that would benefit retention of existing talent. This includes 16% who say a lack of budget is the primary obstacle to improving employee retention in the next 12 months; 15% who say a lack of funding is the biggest challenge to improving employee engagement; and 27% who say funding is the biggest hurdle to implementing new HR-related technology, such as tools that would reduce manual or administrative work, to act more strategically.

1 thought on “Think Your Employees Are Burned Out? It’s Not Just Your Imagination”

  1. Too late Ethel, it’s out there, in the public domain, no longer a secret hidden from view in plain sight the difference between ‘living to work’ and ‘working to live’, “I love my job”, the Holy Grail in the world of work, feeling like, you know, a sense of belonging, having some genuine meaning and purpose, ownership of what you do and that what you do, whether a cog in a big machine or you actually get to witness the positive outcomes to being engaged in the business and your activity makes a difference.

    The human being is the most versatile resource or asset any firm, organisation whatever has on it’s books as, the range of conditions and environments in which it can perform exceeds any other machine, plant or production line.

    However, whilst amazingly robust and adaptable it has one flaw in it’s make-up it has “feelings” and emotions, the sort of intangible, usually unseen and often hidden “factor” determining not only it’s performance and productivity but, sustainability over time. And unless the employer is prepared to accept responsibility for managing their asset value or Wellbeing, the “human being” will NOT perform optimally or sustainably and WILL significantly depreciate, exponentially costing more over it’s foreshortened working life-cycle.

    Some would say “too late” the harm is done, others will say “with a little joined-up thinking we might be just in time” the assets can be conserved, even restored and performance augmented by addressing the sub-optimal working conditions or environments whilst fostering and working to get away from stick and carrot toward more pro-social cultures supporting the ethos of “I love my job” statement.

    Work stress and ultimately the insidious levels of on-going “fatigue” seriously undermines “functionality” and eventually resulting in “adaptation exhaustion”, mental and/or physical breakdown manifesting in a range of non-communicable diseases from those forcing short term escape from the stressors to life changing or worse termination of functioning all together and then little point in flogging a dead horse.

    Aaah, but you said the symptoms are intangible and often hidden and that is a true’ism nevertheless, the chain of causation or root cause analysis has shed a lot of light into this dark corner of human performance science and many of the issues have been recognised in Sports Psychology acknowledging that it is not the stronger nor the fastest but, the who thinks they can that exceed expectation.

    That simply brings us back to the beginning, need for a sense of belonging, having meaning and purpose to be engaged and having “effective mitigation of stressors” be they physical or emotional / mental within “Work Exposure Limits” (WEL’s) that look like they are going to be enshrined in the release of ISO 45001.

    In the meantime, interesting to note on-going human stress related research is reinforcing the connections between self-harming unintentional yet common behavioural reactions where the individual tries to ignore or remains in denial that they are suffering some degree of stress and choose the path of least effort and/or resistance by self-medicating. In this case developing an eating disorder but, as often this can manifest in using ant-acids and other analgesics including alcohol to seek comfort in affect dulling or avoiding the need to do something, anything about mitigating or preventing their insidious loss of wellbeing due to work/life stressors.

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