Learning & Development

Study Shows Widespread Burnout Globally

For millions of workers, the health and safety restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to over 2 years of remote work. For many, that situation seems to be more or less permanent. It may be surprising then to hear that millions of employees globally are reporting feeling burned out at work.

Shouldn’t the relative freedom, flexibility, and autonomy of remote work have employees feeling less burned out?

Multiple Factors Contributing to Burnout

Of course, there are many factors that contribute to burnout, and being in the office versus remote is only one factor. Interestingly, data suggests that many aspects of remote work might contribute to feelings of stress and burnout.

An article by the McKinsey Health Institute reports on the common aspects of their jobs employees indicate “undermine their mental health and well-being.” These include “the feeling of always being on call, unfair treatment, unreasonable workload, low autonomy, and lack of social support.”

Let’s consider some of these aspects cited by McKinsey. Feelings of always being on call and a lack of social support seem directly related to remote work. Employees working remotely often struggle to find a good balance between work life and home life, and being physically removed from colleagues can often lead to a sense of isolation and a lack of support.

Additionally, if managers are less able to effectively monitor the workloads and performance of their remote workers, it’s easy to see how an unreasonable workload and feelings of unfair treatment can develop.

Burnout on the Rise

In fact, the McKinsey data shows that over a quarter (28%) of American respondents to the McKinsey survey reported feeling burnout symptoms “sometimes,” “often,” or “always,” and nearly one-third (32%) reported experiencing moderate distress.

While work life may seem superficially better for employees given the widespread shift to remote work, data suggests that millions of employees around the globe are still feeling burnt out and distressed. The difference is often in the source of those feelings.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.