…we’ll lose nearly $1 trillion in productivity globally each year, spend $190 billion in healthcare outlays, and 120,000 people will die from burnout in the United States alone.
“These survey responses make it clear that a lot of people are having serious disruptions in their relationship with work,” Leiter noted. “It’s not surprising that people are more exhausted —people are working hard to keep their work and personal lives afloat. But the rise in cynicism is even more troubling. Cynicism reflects a lack of trust in the world. So many people feel let down by their government’s poor preparation for the pandemic, as well as by the injustices in work and well-being that the pandemic has highlighted.”
Millennials have the highest levels of burnout, we found. Much of this is due to having less autonomy at work, lower seniority, and greater financial stressors and feelings of loneliness. The last was the biggest factor leading to burnout, according to our research. As one millennial put it: “The pandemic has had a tremendous impact on my well-being—I’ve had mental health challenges, and I’ve hit major roadblocks with that. My physical health has changed because I can’t exercise like I used to. It’s affected me economically. I feel as though my career has been set back yet again.”
One executive at a global accounting firm shared with me that her company recently offered everyone access to a meditation app. After a series of emails from corporate reminding her about all the cool features and benefits the app could offer, she still couldn’t find the time to log on. The executive says that if she has time left in the day, it goes to jamming a granola bar in her mouth and getting to the bathroom. She laughs, “It’s just so ironic. Shouldn’t they make this place less stressful so I don’t need an app to calm down? It all feels a bit tonedeaf.”
From our research, I learned that a big predictor for well-being at work during times of stress was trust and communication.
I learned that this trust would have been built up long before the crisis hit. But it could be developed with frequent and humble communication.