January 28, 2023

No rest: U.S. workforce is experiencing high pressure and burnout


Steet scene, Shoreditch, London. Image by Tim Sandle.

Many workers feel they are running on fumes as the dynamic of the modern economy sweeps them along. The COVID-19 situation introduced additional pressures to the day-to-day challenges faced by workers.

Looking into the situation within the U.S., a poll, passed on to Digital Journal for review, finds that 80 percent of U.S. citizens experienced burnout in the last year. Which factors are causing these feelings? How are they contributing to The Great Resignation?

To find answers, pollsters at SimpleTexting asked 1,000 full-time U.S. employees (hourly and salaried, remote and non-remote, in so-called ‘blue-collar’ and ‘white-collar’ jobs) about their experiences with workplace burnout.

The pollsters also asked questions about the impact of work pressures on their desire to quit their jobs, and quit rates, by industry, state, and generation. The outcome does not make good reading for the U.S. capitalist model.

For example, it was revealed that 80 percent of all survey respondents have experienced burnout in the last year. The three factors that have had the biggest influence on employee burnout are:

  1. Increased workloads as employers seek to squeeze more out of the workers (54 percent).
  2. Stagnant wages and salary (47 percent), presumably coupled with the pace of work.
  3. Staff shortages (41 percent), where the amount of work passed and associated responsibilities  onto other employees will have increased.

Furthermore, 71 percent of all survey respondents say they do not tell their employer or manager when they’re feeling burned out at work. The reasons for this are not clear, although the high proportion is not an indicator of harmonious workplace relations across the typical U.S. firm.

Younger employees are the least likely to tell their employer when they’re feeling burned out and many younger employees explain that they have quit at least one job in the past year.

The desire to exit stands high, with over 1 in 3 respondents thinking about quitting their current job once a week or more. To address this, the three biggest things employers would need to provide to prevent their employees from quitting are:

  1. Better compensation (64 percent).
  2. More vacation time (32 percent).
  3. More career growth opportunities (30 percent).

These are curious answers because increasing pay or in-role promotions will not stop the work volumes or pressures, so these findings are a little strange in relation to the earlier comments.

The appearance of employee burnout is high across different industrial sectors, with 81 percent of education employees, 87 percent of healthcare employees, and 88 percent of retail employees have experienced burnout in the last year. Moreover, over 20 percent of education, healthcare, and hospitality employees say they feel uncomfortable or very uncomfortable taking their vacation time during the pandemic.