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Since April 2021, a record 19 million employees in the U.S. have quit their jobs, while many others are thinking of doing the same. In a follow-up survey of one thousand resignees, 40% cited burnout as their top reason for leaving. 

At the end of the day, burnout is bad for employees and bad for the bottom line. Take time to learn its six main causes so that you can design workplace solutions that promote employee wellbeing and avert further disruption.

The Six Biggest Causes of Burnout

Excessive workload. Our own global survey (of more than 7’000 employees across seven countries) reveals that 47% of employees are either “fed up”, “stressed” or “exhausted” at work. Help employees better manage their workloads by identifying low-priority goals, and providing more support for sudden workplace changes. You may also consider implementing other measures such as a four-day workweek.

Perceived lack of control. Being micromanaged is de-motivating for employees, whereas autonomy positively affects well-being. Build trust and empower employees to determine their best ways of working. Offer them more choice over how, where, or when a task can be accomplished. 

Lack of recognition. The Global Employee Experience Pulse Check 2021 shows that only 23% of employees are completely satisfied with the recognition they receive. Pay people what they’re worth, but also let them know that their work is seen and appreciated by both managers and colleagues. Don’t just focus on top contributors, which can foster envy and unhealthy competition. 

Poor relationships. Social connection is a greater challenge now with the digital workplace. Give employees opportunities to connect by building a more inclusive culture, and celebrate who they are outside the context of work. You may consider investing in an employee app or encouraging them to volunteer for causes of shared interest.

Lack of fairness. People who feel unfairly treated will lack motivation, or worse, smolder with resentment. While it would be impossible to eliminate every perceived slight and grievance, companies can provide early-warning systems to safely report and resolve these issues. Give employees a voice and be relentless in eliminating bias and discrimination. 

Values mismatch. When personal values align with company values, this leads to greater motivation and well-being. But where the opposite is true, this can lead to burnout. Companies can either hire people who align more with their values, or stand up for the values that they espouse. For employees, it may mean looking for an employer who truly walks the talk or empowers their people to pursue their sense of purpose in the workplace.

Invest in a More Fulfilling Employee Experience

To prevent burnout and attrition, it pays to design an employee experience that meets today’s demands for workplace autonomy and flexibility. Here are a few tips that may help you.

Prioritize human-centric design. Today’s employees want pay, benefits, and perks. But they also want to feel valued by their companies and managers. “Young people now value flexibility more than salary,” says Paul Conneally, head of global communications at LiveTiles. “This is not just about office versus home working models, but a culture that is focused more on performance than productivity, on outcomes rather than outputs.”

Use tech for good. Tech has undoubtedly made work faster and more efficient. But rather than focusing solely on productivity, use it to build healthy connections by promoting face-to-face collaboration and social interactions. “Technology needs to improve experience, not make it worse,” says Conneally. “Businesses need to ensure their ‘digital workplace‘ reduces employee frustration, drives efficiency and decreases the number of systems employees have to access.” 

Encourage employee communication. Establish a good system of feedback and empower the employee voice. Embrace the power of dialogue and make sure to actively listen—and resolve—your employees’ needs. As Simon Sinek said at the “Let’s Connect” virtual event, “People want to feel seen, heard and understood. They want to be recognized for being a human being, not just a cog in a machine.” By giving them the skills to make them feel seen, heard and understood, you allow them to do the same for others.

By making a concerted effort to better understand the causes of burnout and taking meaningful action to address these, companies could gain the advantage in attracting, developing, and retaining the talent they need in the post-pandemic era.