The “traditional” workplace can be a stressful environment for many. Demanding bosses, difficult coworkers, unreasonable workloads, and long hours in the office can really take their toll on mental health and personal well-being—perhaps you can relate.When COVID-19 struck, a new era of remote working emerged and transformed the
work-life balancefor us all, changing perceptions among employees and employers about working from home.Many employees have fought to retain the right to work from home, while many employers have tried to resist. Meanwhile, some employees and employers have adapted to a
hybrid model—creating a balance between home- and office-based working.For some, the switch to remote working may have been a welcome change. However, in the years following the pandemic, HR managers had to confront the important issue of remote work burnout, and its impact on employee engagement and employee well-being.
Global workplace burnout statistics
Workplace burnout has become an increasing issue around the world, and has been described by McKinsey and Company as “
the great exhaustion” Levels of burnout among workers intensified during the pandemic, particularly in workplaces that remained open. Specifically, it was a problem among on-site workers in the retail, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors.
- Employee stress levels have been soaring in recent years. More than half of American workers say they experienced burnout in 2023, and three-quarters of respondents reported at least a moderate level of stress.
- In 2022, 44% of global workers said they experienced a lot of workplace stress during their workday, repeating the record high from 2021 and continuing a decade-long trend).
- 80% of senior risk professionals predict that burnout will have a significant impact on employees in 2024, and just 41% feel their organizations are equipped to deal with the threat.
- 36% of workers state their organizations have nothing in place to help stave off employee burnout.
- Burnout syndrome accounts for 8% of all occupational illness cases.
- Women are more likely than men to suffer from burnout. 46% of women say they are burned out compared with 37% of men.
- Millennials (59%), Gen Z (58%), and Gen X (54%) shared similar burnout rates, whereas Baby Boomers (31%) had significantly lower rates.
- A high rate of burnout was reported in mid-level incomes with 44% in the $30,000 to $60,000 bracket. The lowest rate of burnout was 38% in the $100,000 and above bracket.
- Burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job.
- 75% of workers have experienced burnout, with 40% saying they experienced burnout specifically during the pandemic.
- 67% of all workers believe burnout worsened over the course of the pandemic.
- 83% of employees say burnout can negatively impact personal relationships.
Gallup "State of the Global Workplace" Report,
Thrive My Way,
Business Health Institute,
Pre-coronavirus pandemic statistics
Pre-COVID workplace burnout was at a lower level than the record highs recorded during the pandemic. This is despite very few employers offering remote working due to fears over employee productivity.However, despite fewer cases of workplace burnout pre-COVID, healthcare costs relating to work-related stress amount to
around $190 billion per year in the US.
- 84% of millennials experienced burnout in their current job.
- Women were more likely to suffer from workplace burnout than men.
- Workload was the main cause of workplace burnout.
- 57% of people in the UK, 50% in the United States, 37% in Spain, 30% in Germany and France said they had experienced workplace burnout.
- In the UK, 15% of workers suffered workplace burnout because of Brexit.
- One in four employees felt burned out at work very often or always, while nearly half reported feeling it sometimes.
- Over 15 million days were lost in 2019 due to employees suffering from work-related burnout.
- While 38% of employees reported being stressed in 2019, this number rose to 43% in 2020.
The Independent (2018),
Cartridge People (2019),
World Economic Forum (2019),
Gallup "State of the Global Workplace" Report.
Remote work burnout
In the post-coronavirus era, record numbers of employees are working from home. In fact, there are now
three times more remote jobscompared to 2020. However, the impact of COVID-19 on remote work burnout has been staggering.
- 69% of remote employees report increased burnout from digital communication tools.
- 53% of virtual or work from home (WFH) employees are working more hours now than they were in the office. Nearly one-third (31%) say they are working “much more” than before the pandemic.
- 48% of employees working from home say they lack emotional support.
- Remote (40%) and hybrid work (38%) are associated with an increased likelihood of anxiety and depression symptoms compared to in-person work (35%).
- 38% of employees suffer remote work burnout because they feel pressured by management to work more hours.
- 21% say it’s a toss-up between pressure from managers and customers or clients.
- 86% of remote employees have experienced high levels of exhaustion.
- A quarter of remote workers say they’re experiencing increased “Zoom fatigue” compared to the last two years, while over half have more meetings virtually than they did in person.
- 61% of remote workers now find it more difficult to “unplug” from work during off-hours.
- Moving from full-time office to full-time remote work increases loneliness by 67 percentage points.
Mental Health America,
Society for Human Resource Management,
Top causes of home office burnout
The three most common causes of burnout due to working from home include:
- An inability to disconnect from work, and a lack of boundaries between work and personal life
- Lacking workplace inspiration
- Missing a supportive environment
An inability to disconnect from work
The number one cause of remote work burnout is an inability to disconnect from work. With the home becoming the workplace, home-based office workers are often working longer hours. It's not uncommon for employees working from home to sit through a conference call during lunch or end up working late into the evening to complete tasks outside of work hours.On average, remote workers are reportedly working up to
10% more weekly hours since COVID, which is causing some significant social and wellness challenges as home-based workers struggle to balance work and life.To prevent this, employers with remote employees need to implement a strategy that focuses on deliverables and not hours. It's important for employers to set clear expectations for meetings and synchronous communication—for example, saying “we'll talk twice a day at these times.”Shifting the emphasis from the number of hours worked to an individual's productivity enables employees to focus and complete set tasks within working hours. Employees don't feel micromanaged and employers get the best results.
Lacking workplace inspiration
Home-based working can be incredibly isolating, and can decrease employee motivation. When people feel burnt out by work, they want to do anything but work.
Scientific studiesprove that chronic burnout changes the anatomy and functioning of the brain. In a heightened state of stress, our brains switch to “survival mode”, impairing inspiration and a desire to work.There are several ways that employers can help remote employees combat a lack of workplace inspiration. One way is to encourage a sense of belonging. Employers can start by establishing a set of collective team values. Find out what's important to your remote and office based workers, and then identify and create ways for your team to honor those values.For example, if fun is a priority for your employees, come up with some fun ways to bring your team together and help them bond.
Missing a supportive environment
Remote work burnout statistics show
48% of remote employees feel they have no emotional supportfrom their employers. Without personal interaction with managers and co-workers, it's difficult for them to know there's anything wrong or that you need support. If you feel burnt out, you need to be able to communicate this to your managers and co-workers.Employers can provide support by showing they care and taking an interest in the well-being of remote employees. Connecting through regular video calls and asking for honest feedback about how home-based employees are feeling is a step in the right direction. This helps to build real relationships and trust.Taking all the remote work burnout statistics into account, it's clear that there is a major issue, but there are solutions for employers and employees to combat burnout due to working from home. Certainly, one of these solutions could be
hybrid working—a blend of home- and office-based working.