Alarm Call Sounded Over U.S. Staff Burnout Rates

istock-518889586-compressorAround half of the 614 human resources executives recently questioned by consultancy Future Workplace and software group Kronos blamed burnout for causing 20%-to-50% of their annual workforce turnover. Nearly 10% said burnout was responsible for causing more than half of their annual staff departures.

Such results, while alarming, aren’t altogether surprising, given the strain on resources created by the global financial crisis and ongoing rounds of cost-cutting at businesses hurt by technological disruption and labor outsourcing. Digital technology is also making life more stressful by exposing workers to devices that can keep them more connected to work outside traditional business hours.

Still, the line between what people identify as “burnout” and mere frustration over the size of their pay packet can be blurry.

“CEOs confronting a depressed workforce may want to take a leaf out of France’s book.

Unfair compensation was identified in the survey as the top contributor to burnout, with unreasonable workload and too much unpaid overtime or after-hours work rounding out the top three. Other factors fueling burnout included poor management and a negative workplace culture.

To address the problem, organizations may want to start investing more time and money into retaining staff, rather than recruiting them. There also needs to be more buy-in from the C-suite, with a lack of executive support and a lack of organizational vision identified by HR leaders as key impediments to improvement.

The survey results come after a poll of more than 80,000 adults conducted by Gallup found the percentage of U.S. workers in 2015 considered to be engaged was just 32%, unchanged from 2014.

CEOs confronting a depressed workforce may want to take a leaf out of France’s book. Europe’s third-biggest economy has just introduced laws that give workers a “right to disconnect”. The laws, which came into force January 1, obligate organizations with more than 50 employees to establish protocols allowing them to ignore emails at certain times of day.

“As the economy continues to improve and employees have more job options, companies will have to provide more compensation, expand benefits and improve their employee experience,” Future Workplace partner Dan Schawbel said.

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Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.

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