2023 is barely underway and I’m already writing about burnout.
Why? Well, we may have had a brief respite while we celebrated the holidays, but now we’re back at it and our noses are firmly back on the grindstones.
Last month, when you reflected back on the year that was, perhaps you resolved to make some changes. Maybe you planned to make more time for the people who report to you, and set goals for the conversations you were going to have with them. How are you doing with that? And what about the corporate policies planned to be put in place to help managers and those who report to them achieve better work/life balance? How is that going?
If you have plans like this, perhaps I’m preaching to the choir. Maybe so, but I’m going to make the case, again, to pay attention to the well-being of those who work with you.
Here’s some data to back me up:
According to research done by Future Forum Pulse (Oct. 22), burnout rose globally, with the most significant increase being felt by desk workers in the US. I live and work in Canada, and our engagement and workplace culture stats tend to mirror those of the US, so things aren’t great here either.
The US has the highest rate of burnout in the world at 43%, but other countries aren’t far behind.
To make things worse, female workers show 32% more burnout than their male counterparts.
If you think burnout is something only more seasoned employees feel, you’d be wrong. 49% of younger workers (18-29) say they feel burned out versus just 38% of workers aged over 30.
Given the work I do, here is the stat that has the most impact for me: Middle managers are at high risk for burnout, at 43% versus individual contributors at 40%, senior management at 37%, and executives at 32%.
So, what is this telling us? Well, it would seem everyone throughout an organization is at risk of burning out, but managers are the most vulnerable right now. Why? Because burned out and unhappy workers turn to their managers for support, and those managers are, themselves, burned out and unhappy.
Strategic organizational leaders need to pay attention to these stats.
Burnout is closely tied to a degradation in employee experience, lack of connection, and higher quit rate. There has been a lot of talk lately about quiet quitting. This is where it comes from. This lack of connection—of care for the work and the organization—leads to a decrease in productivity and work quality. To quantify this, burnout leads to 32% lower productivity and 60% worse ability to focus.
Much of this stems from employees feeling disconnected to the organization, its values, and their team, including their direct manager. And, because they don’t care about their job or their company, workers are 3x more likely or very likely to look for a new job this year.
It would seem The Great Resignation is not over yet.
There is something that can be done! Anyone with people reporting to them (this includes you, executives!) can help stem the tide of burnout, disconnection, and attrition. Making and maintaining workplace connections is key to boosting feelings of inclusion and care. And this connection is key to reducing burnout. People want to be heard and understood. They want to feel like they matter and the work they do has value. To encourage these feelings of worth, managers, senior leaders, and executives should focus on building a culture of collaboration, connection, and camaraderie in all workspaces, be they in-office, remote, or hybrid.
How do you do this? It’s simple—have regular, frequent, and consistent one-on-one conversations with your reports. Executives, make this a mandated practice and hold managers accountable for having them. Anyone in the organization with people reporting to them should be holding these conversations. Sure, they take a time investment up front. However, as communication and trust increase throughout the organization, so, too, will empathy and care for the professional development of employees. These are the things people want from their workplaces, and when they get them, they stay there and do great work.
If you’ve set a goal, for 2023, to focus on the well-being of your employees, this is a wonderful place to start. Recognition and benefits programs are very important, but they are not enough, on their own, to entice unhappy, burned-out employees to stay. So, incorporate them into your plan, but be sure to prioritize connection. It will pay off.
This is the time of the month when new year’s resolutions start to tail off. We lapse back into old habits and start eating sugar or forgetting to do our morning workouts. This is also the time when the goals we set for 2023 are in peril. Will we stick to our commitments, or will we fall back on what we’ve always done?
If your resolution was to connect with and promote better understanding of employees in your workplace, keep your eyes on the prize! I can help. Reach out to me and let’s talk about soft skills training for the people leaders in your organization. You can get me at email@example.com
Download the Future Forum Pulse report here: Executives feel the strain of leading in the ‘new normal’ - Future Forum