Wellbeing | Three in four U.S. workers have suffered from burnout - here's what's causing it

Three in four U.S. workers have suffered from burnout - here's what's causing it

Nearly three in four workers across the U.S. have suffered from burnout and the associated symptoms as a result of their current role, new research has revealed.

To find out which industries and states are most affected by burnout, the business communications experts Ringover surveyed over 1,000 U.S. workers, to discover the extent of the impact it is having on workers in 2023.

Industries and employees with the biggest levels of workplace burnout

The research found that nearly three in four workers across the U.S. (73.65%) have suffered from burnout and the associated symptoms as a result of their current role, with those working in agriculture being most impacted by work-related stress.

Other industries that see higher than average levels of burnout include those working in the finance and insurance sector (82.50%), information publishing and telecommunications (81.38%), and the public sector (80.49%).

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Overall, just one in five (20.95%) claim to have suffered no symptoms of burnout from their current role, with workers in the transportation and utilities industry the least impacted by burnout (31.25%). Businesses in wholesale and retail trade (20.75%), construction (20.69%), and leisure and hospitality (20%) also saw high levels of workers not suffering from workplace stress.

Demographics most affected by burnout

Male workers were most likely to feel the impact of the symptoms of burnout (78.55%), compared to 67.03% of female workers. Gen Z workers were most likely to suffer from burnout (85.23%), followed by millennials (82.30%)–this is a stark difference to older generations, with just over half (51.56%) of workers in the 55-64 age bracket claiming to have experienced it.

Industries at most risk of staff attrition

While the research indicated that burnout is rising across all industries in the U.S., it seems that employers may be at risk of high levels of employee turnover as a result, with nearly two-thirds (64.25%) of those surveyed claiming they have considered leaving their current role as a result of burnout and the associated symptoms.

Men were most likely to consider handing in their notice as a result of the syndrome (68.75% compared to 59.07% of women), while the likelihood of losing an employee due to burnout increases dramatically the younger the workforce is.

Over three quarters (78.14%) of workers aged 18-24 have considered leaving as a result, dropping to 77.88% for 25-34 year olds and 52.41% for 35-44 year olds.

Employers working in the financial sector are most at risk of losing employers due to burnout, with four in five employees in this industry (81.67%) claiming they have considered leaving as a direct result of it.

The top ten industries at risk of losing employees due to burnout, based on the percentage of workers who have considered leaving in the last 12 months, are:

  1. Financial activities and insurance (81.67%)

  2. Information publishing and telecommunications (77.24%)

  3. Construction (75.86%)

  4. Public sector (75.61%)

  5. Agriculture (75%)

  6. Professional and business services (73.33%)

  7. Manufacturing (70.13%)

  8. Education (64.60%)

  9. Wholesale and retail trade (64.15%)

  10. Transportation and utilities (62.50%)

Leading causes of burnout

When asked the main triggers and causes of burnout and associated symptoms, over two in five (43%) claimed heavy workload was the main trigger for workplace stress. Other triggers identified by the research were lack of resources (36.9%), micromanagement (36.6%), and toxic work environments (34.5%).

The top triggers of burnout, according to the research, are:

  1. Heavy workload (43%)

  2. Lack of resources (36.9%)

  3. Micromanagement (36.6%)

  4. Toxic work environment (34.2%)

  5. Stress (33.5%)

  6. Lack of support (31.6%)

  7. Unclear job expectations (29.5%)

  8. Bad work life balance (25.9%)

  9. Monotonous tasks (23.6%)

  10. Emotional nature of the role (11.9%)

  11. Micro-management was the leading cause of burnout amongst professional and business services, while those working in healthcare and construction were most affected by toxic work environments.

Leading symptoms of burnout

Of the respondents, 42.8% claimed that they’ve suffered from feeling tired and drained most of the time as a result of their role at work, along with nearly a third (32.6%) stating that in the past year they’ve felt detached. Other common symptoms include feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated (31.7%), having a cynical or negative outlook (27.4%) and self-doubt (27%).

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Shockingly, one in 25 of those surveyed admitted to alcohol or substance misuse in the last 12 months as a result of work.

The top ten symptoms of burnout felt by employees in the last 12 months, according to the research, are:

  1. Feeling tired and drained most of the time (42.8%)

  2. Feeling detached (32.6%)

  3. Feeling helpless, trapped or defeated (31.7%)

  4. Having a cynical or negative outlook (27.4%)

  5. Self doubt (27%)

  6. Feeling overwhelmed (26.5%)

  7. Loss of motivation (23.5%)

  8. Procrastination and taking longer to get things done (22.2%)

  9. Excessive stress (18.2%)

  10. Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment (15%)

Although feeling tired and drained most of the time was the leading burnout cause for employees across most industries, a few key industry differences were highlighted in the research. Procrastination and taking longer to get things done was the most common burnout symptom amongst public sector workers, while those in education were most likely to feel overwhelmed.

Workers in the agriculture sector were most likely to feel detached as a result of their current role, while excessive stress was the most common symptom for transportation and utility workers. Finally, feeling helpless was the most common burnout symptom for those in wholesale and retail trade, as well as professional and business services.

Easing burnout for employees

When asked about potential changes that could be implemented by employers that could increase happiness levels at work, 44.4% of those surveyed claimed that a four-day working week would positively impact their happiness levels in their role, with a similar level of agreement for more vacation days (44.6%). Over a third (37.6%) felt more remote working options would increase their happiness levels in their current role.



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