Employees and Managers Are Burned Out and Checked Out

Employees and Managers Are Burned Out and Checked Out

April 25, 2024
New Harris poll says 75% of employees and 63% of managers are feeling burned out.

The stress level for both managers and employees is not improving.

On April 16 a Harris Poll surveyed 2,086 employees and found that 75% of employees and 63% of managers report feeling burned out or ambivalent in their current position.

The biggest driver of burnout for both groups is "a great deal of constant change."

Other factors include:

  • Unnecessary work from senior leadership
  • Employees frequently having to shift focus throughout the day
  • High turnover rates that often lead to even more work for those left behind.

Even though both groups are stressed, managers aren't recognizing just how overwhelmed their employees feel, with 89% saying their employees are thriving compared to the actual thriving figure of 24%. That's more than a 3-to-1 discrepancy.

"Managers have been asked to lead employees through this permacrisis we find ourselves in today with empathy, and yet they still face greater responsibilities and heightened productivity pressure, often with fewer resources and smaller teams," said David Grossman, CEO of The Grossman Group, which commissioned the survey, in a statement. "All of this is happening without the personal support and flexibility they need to thrive."

Highlights of the findings include:

Widespread burnout among employees and managers

    • 58% of burned-out employees and managers strongly agree that they are mentally exhausted; 54% strongly agree that they feel overwhelmed in their current role.
    • Top burnout drivers for managers are a disconnect between the company's stated values and the workplace culture, and the fact that employees are not encouraged and sometimes even discouraged from taking time off from work. Another burnout driver for managers is that the demands of their job "require me to work outside of standard working hours."

Heightened burnout indicators for younger generations

    • Younger generation employees are nearly 3x more likely than older generations to say that interpersonal conflict hinders working conditions and drives feelings of burnout (16%). They are more than 2x as likely than older generations to cite a toxic work environment (16%) and communication overload as contributing to burnout (17%).

The survey also found that for those employees who are doing well, the top three factors are:

    • A manager invested in their success (61%)
    • An empathetic manager (57%)
    • Approachable senior leadership (53%)

Different Viewpoints

A notable nuance is that what drives thriving for managers and employees is slightly different. For employees, the number one factor is quite personal, feeling that their manager is genuinely invested in their success and leads with empathy. When looking at ambivalent employees, the largest opportunity or gap to fill was around managers demonstrating personal investment in those employees.   

While managers want to see a personal investment from leadership as well, the even bigger factor for managers is feeling that their leader does a good job translating business strategy into the work they do, as well as clear and authentic communication from leadership.  

There are bright spots in the data, especially the fact that even many burned-out managers report relatively positive feelings about their work overall. For instance, only 36% of burned-out employees feel proud of the work they're doing, yet 50% of burned-out managers feel pride in their work. Furthermore, 46% of burned-out managers still feel respected at work and 39% feel they are reaching their potential.

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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