Burnout talk more prevalent than in earlier pandemic period

UK workers are discussing burnout at increasing rates, but they aren’t taking advantage of opportunities to rest and recover, Glassdoor research finds.

UK workers are discussing burnout concerns even more than they did during the first year of the pandemic, according to research by Glassdoor.

The Glassdoor Economic Research team reviewed nearly 400,000 posts on — a leading website for workers seeking information about places of employment — and found that UK-based workers discussed burnout 48% more often from June 2021 to May 2022 than they had the previous year.

"People are in bad shape right now," Britt Andreatta, Ph.D., said on a Journal of Accountancy podcast episode earlier this year. "It's driving the Great Resignation, and the only real cure for it is rest."

Andreatta, who has written several books on leadership and change management, had her sentiments echoed by a survey that accompanied Glassdoor's website analysis. The survey of 2,000 UK workers found that 72% consider annual leave to be an effective way to minimise burnout. However, only 60% said they took all their leave in the past year, with 18% of workers under the age of 25 admitting they didn't take any leave in the previous 12 months.

"We have been overworking and under-resting for two full years because we lost access to all the things we used to do to rest, like take vacations, have dinner with friends, get a pedicure," Andreatta said. "The problem is now people are so in the habit of just overworking, and they've disconnected from their memories of the fun of some of these things that people, even though things are now a little bit safer, they're still staying at home and they're overworking.

"We all really need to lean into taking care of ourselves, resting, starting to do the things that bring us joy."

Workplace leaders can have an effect on workers' ability to address burnout concerns, and the Glassdoor survey results suggest that leaders could do more by encouraging workers to do less at appropriate times.

Forty-seven per cent of workers who took at least some of their annual holiday time said they found it impossible to fully disconnect from work. Furthermore, 28% admitted to checking work emails while on holiday, and 18% said they reached out to a co-worker while away from work. Perhaps, however, company leaders are driving such burnout-boosting behaviour: Just 34% of workers said their employer encourages them to take all their annual leave, and 22% said they were contacted by their employer while on leave.

"If you think you're leading your team by not considering their burnout and their mental health, then you're incorrect. You're at best managing them, but you're definitely not leading them," Stefan van Duyvendijk, accounting operations evangelist with FloQast, said on a recent episode of the Journal of Accountancy podcast.

Van Duyvendijk has researched burnout amongst accountants for FloQast, an accounting software vendor based in the US.

"It is incredibly important as a leader, or to be a leader, to consider their personal wellbeing, and that includes mental health," van Duyvendijk said. "… You're just by nature going to see a drastic improvement in their performance."

Without effective action from leaders, Andreatta believes that many workers won't continue performing for their current employers at all.

"For leaders, I would say really leaning in and helping your workforce recover from burnout should be your number one priority right now because everything else will come from that," she said. "We'll just keep seeing people quit their jobs if we don't really address burnout head-on."

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