Burnout has been on the rise since the start of pandemic — a trend that been a big factor in the turnover tsunami that has swept the nation.
But a new survey shows many employees who remained with their companies are hitting a breaking point.
The survey of more than 1,000 employees by business formation firm Inc and Go found about 71% of full-time employees feel they were overworked at least once every week and about 48% of employees feel overworked several times a week. Overworked was defined as an employee feeling like they worked more hours than they were supposed to.
Meanwhile, 42% of full-time employees want after-hours work banned by their employer.
“There’s a difference between feeling motivated to do your best work and overextending yourself because you feel pressured to keep up with employees who are intentionally trying to overwork themselves,” the company noted in a blog post analyzing the survey. “The more that happens, the easier it is for strenuous work culture to become the norm. There has been a pretty seismic shift in the thinking around hustling and even a more common acceptance that terms like ‘work family‘ are toxic and contribute to this unhealthy culture where you are expected to become wrapped up in your job.”
The survey comes amid what many have dubbed Great Resignation, which has employees shuffling to jobs that pay more or offer better flexibility. It also comes as workers are looking for better work-life balance and are willing to forgo higher pay and even promotions to get it.
But it shows the fine line companies are walking when it comes to asking their employees to work more. About 33% of workers were “extremely” willing to work overtime in the event of a labor shortage at their company, while 38% were “very willing,” according to a separate survey by invoicing software firm Skynova.
When it came to forced overtime, about 45% said they had refused to work, while 41% said they had gone on strike or walked out of the job. About 24% of workers surveyed said they had quit a job because of forced overtime. Gen Z workers were the most likely to quit at 29%, compared to just 13% of baby boomers, according to the Skynova survey.
Employees are facing high pressure to work more, and are often working early, late or long hours, including holidays or weekends, according to the Inc and Go survey. The top reasons employees end up overworking is because of employer expectations, meeting deadlines and keeping up with the workload.
About 77% of those workers found overwork harmed their work-life balance and increased their stress and emotional fatigue, according to the survey.
“One of the most extreme consequences of overworking culture is burnout, which is something that happens from a number of combined factors —not the least of which might be the mental, emotional and financial fallout from the pandemic,” the company said.
While 66% of employees said they approached their manager with concerns about overwork, only 42% of workers said their manager did anything to address their concerns. About 32% of employees said their manager ignored their concerns.
What do employees want? About 60% said they wanted their employers to set clear boundaries for work and 42% said they wanted their employers to ban working after hours. About 37% said they wanted more time off.
“The real-world ramifications of excessive commitment to work are unfortunately common. That said, there does seem to be a profound shift happening where people are finally taking charge of their professional lives and finding better situations for themselves,” the company said.
Burnout can have a real effect on employee turnover, according to a separate survey from FlexJobs, which found 42% of workers who had quit recently attributed that decision to burnout.
And a majority of workers think it should be illegal for their bosses to contact them outside of work hours — and many think the companies should be fined if they do so.
The survey of 1,000 employed Americans, conducted by invoicing software firm Skynova, found 63.3% of employed Americans believe it should be illegal for bosses to call, text or email outside of their scheduled hours, and 45% of workers believe the employer should pay the employee a fine for doing so.
There is some global precedent for governments cracking down on after-hours calls. A new law in Portugal made it illegal for bosses to email, call or text workers after the end of the business day, as Triangle Business Journal Editor-in-Chief Sougata Mukherjee noted in a recent column.