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.