Workday Voice of the Employee Report: Burnout “Doom Loop” Undermines Engagement and Loyalty

The latest insights from Workday Peakon Employee Voice reveal that on average, 27% of employees within an organization are at high risk of burnout. We examine the top drivers for burnout and provide the blueprint for how organizations can avoid the burnout “doom loop” and retain top talent.

Unhappy employee sitting at a desk, looking at a computer

Insights from our latest “Workday Voice of the Employee Report” reveal that on average, 27% of employees within an organization are at high risk of burnout, based on an analysis of employee experience data from 2.6 million employees across 875 companies and 12 industries around the world using Workday Peakon Employee Voice, our employee listening platform.

Left unaddressed, burn out risk can cascade from manager to employee, creating a doom loop of negative employee experience with alarming consequences. Employees with higher levels of burnout risk are not only less engaged, they also report lower levels of job satisfaction, belief in company, and intent to stay.

In order to retain top talent, business leaders need to look beyond the individual, and develop a data-driven view of health and well-being that allows them to identify the organizational factors driving burnout risk.

Employee responses to engagement questions grouped by burnout risk status.

Burnout risk is contagious. Most business leaders are unaware of how burnout risk can cascade through their organization, impacting both manager and employee effectiveness. Getting to the root cause of burnout risk can help prevent this spread, and ensure that money spent on health and well-being programmes deliver long-lasting results, rather than short-term fixes.

Managers at organizations with high levels of burnout risk are 2x more likely to be at risk of burnout themselves.

Learn how we’re empowering organizations to transform how they manage their people and their money and how we’re boldly leading global brands toward an AI-enabled future with trust at the heart of everything we do.

The Manager-to-Employee Burnout Doom Loop

Managers play a key role in supporting the health and well-being of their teams, but they are exposed to the same organizational risk factors as everyone else. For managers to effectively address burnout risk within their teams, it’s essential for organizations to ensure they have the resources and support to do so.

Our analysis found that 33% of managers at organizations with high burnout risk fall into the “high risk” category themselves, compared to 15% at organizations with low burnout risk. In other words, managers at high-risk organizations are 2x as susceptible to burnout.

How company burnout risk impacts manager burnout risk.

When managers are experiencing increased levels of burnout risk, it also filters through to their team members. At high-risk organizations, 1 in 2 employees are at risk of burnout when their manager’s burnout risk is also high, compared to 1 in 4 at low-risk organizations.

Without addressing the organizational factors that contribute to burnout, the cascade of frazzled people interacting with each other creates a doom loop of negative employee experience that results in higher levels of burnout risk for both managers and employees.

Address Root Causes, Not Just the Symptoms

The main driver of burnout risk can differ by industry and organization, and even within individual departments and teams—limiting the effectiveness of a one-size-fits-all approach. And while many interventions might help to alleviate the symptoms of burnout, they do little to address the root cause.

Here are steps organizations can take to reduce burnout risk and cultivate a high-performing and highly engaged workforce:

  • Close the gap between execs and employees through data: Business leaders can’t address a problem if they don’t know it exists. A consistent stream of data that measures employee sentiment and well-being can help executives understand how their workforce is feeling, and how that sentiment is impacting the performance of the organization.

  • Align company values with desired health and well-being outcomes: If health and well-being are priorities, they need to be reflected in company values, as well as the day-to-day actions and attitudes of leaders across the business.

  • Reduce the rigidity and complexity of policies and processes: At its core, reducing burnout risk is not only about ensuring that workloads are manageable but also about ensuring managers and employees feel that the work they are doing is meaningful.

To learn more about the causes of burnout risk, how they differ across industries, and their impact on business outcomes such as transformation and change, read the full report.

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