July 12, 2017 American workers are stressed out and burned out but they refuse to take time out, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. In fact, three of five workers (61 percent) polled in their recent study claimed they are burned out in their job. A third (33 percent) said their work has them under high or extremely high levels of stress.
But it gets worse. One third (33 percent) of workers polled said they have yet to take a vacation this year or have no plans to do so. When they do take time off, they said their job was often on their mind. Three of every 10 workers (31 percent) said they check their work email while on vacation. Eighteen percent check in regularly with those at work.
For many, work simply piles up when they are away. Over a third of those who responded to the survey (36 percent) said they had so much to do when they returned from being away that they would prefer to have stayed. Another 18 percent said their stress got worse because of their vacation.
Low Job, High Stress
Although stress and burn-out affects high numbers of workers across the board, the impact appears to be greatest among the lower echelons:
Leaders must set an example for their employees, said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer (CHRO) at CareerBuilder. If you’re a boss, it’s important that you role model how to take a vacation, she said. If you’re prone to answering every email and phone call that comes through on your vacation time, consider the example you’re setting for your team members. You need to set up an automated response email, and only respond to absolutely urgent emails while you’re away. Direct all calls to an assistant or colleague at the office. Show your employees that vacation time matters to you and your company and its culture.
Paying the Price
High stress has consequences. It impacts women in greater numbers (34 percent) than men (27 percent), the survey said. Stress manifests itself in physical symptoms that in many cases can lead to personal and health problems. Some of those include: Being tired all the time (29 percent); sleepless nights (26 percent); aches and pains (24 percent); high anxiety (23 percent); weight gain (18 percent); can’t keep things straight in your head (17 percent); anger issues at work (16 percent); depression (15 percent); and high blood-pressure (10 percent).
CareerBuilder offers the following three suggestions for keeping work at bay while you’re on vacation
1. Inform people that you are off duty:
People will think twice about contacting you about the small stuff if they know you’re on vacation, said CareerBuilder. So whether you’re planning a quiet staycation or a trip halfway around the world, let your manager, colleagues and clients know you’ll be off the clock.
2. Deploy and delegate:
Have your email autoreply set up to provide names and contact information for coworkers who will be taking care of your responsibilities. â€œBe sure to give those coworkers any important files, project statuses and other pertinent information so they won’t have to contact you unless it’s an absolute emergency, said CareerBuilder.
3. Set aside check-in times:
If you’re uneasy at the prospect of being completely out of touch from your job, set aside a given time each day to contact work. Checking in once in the morning and once in the evening may give you peace of mind and permission to stop thinking about work the rest of the day, said CareerBuilder.
The CareerBuilder survey was conducted online by Harris Poll. A total of 3,215 full-time, private-sector U.S. workers were questioned. Their jobs were across industries.
A Growing Trend?
According to a study in the Employee Engagement Series by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace, the biggest threat to building an engaged workforce in 2017 is employee burnout. The report found that 95 percent of HR leaders admit employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention. It’s now being seen as a widespread problem with no obvious solution in sight.
Employee burnout has reached epidemic proportions, said Charlie DeWitt, vice president of business development at Kronos. While many organizations take steps to manage employee fatigue, there are far fewer efforts to proactively manage burnout. Not only can employee burnout sap productivity and fuel absenteeism, but as this survey shows, it will undermine engagement and cause an organization’s top performers to leave the business altogether.
This creates a never-ending cycle of disruption that makes it difficult to build the high-performing workforce needed to compete in today’s business environment, he said. Organizations should seek out and implement technology solutions that provide a proactive approach to mitigating burnout, such as the scheduling of rest during rolling periods as long as a year.
Workforce analytics can also identify and alert managers to trends in scheduling and absenteeism that may indicate an employee is on the path to burnout so changes can be made.
According to the Kronos survey, nearly half of HR leaders (46 percent) say employee burnout is responsible for up to half (20 to 50 percent, specifically) of their annual workforce turnover. Almost 10 percent blame employee burnout for causing more than 50 percent of workforce turnover each year. Too much work and too little pay are problematic, but many issues fueling burnout are in HR’s control, according to the report. Unfair compensation (41 percent), unreasonable workload (32 percent), and too much overtime / after-hours work (32 percent) are the top three contributors to burnout, per the study.
Engagement has been the workforce buzzword for the past decade, said Mollie Lombardi, co-founder and CEO of Aptitude Research Partners. We talk about ensuring that employees are challenged, appreciated, and in sync with strategic objectives, but even when they have an intellectual or emotional engagement with their work they sometimes still feel overwhelmed. While not all burnout can be eliminated, much of it can be avoided using critical strategies that balance consistency and personalization of schedules and workload; leverage managers as models for how their team can achieve work/life balance; and implement tools and technology that proactively manage burnout or otherwise support these efforts.