Our survey work with organizations of many different sizes and in many different industries often point to a troubling combination of overwork, stress and the inability to achieve a reasonable balance between their working lives and their personal lives.
Based on our most recent normative study among employees in the U.S.:
Based on these survey results, it seems clear that at least one quarter of employees in the U.S. is experiencing a high level of dysfunction due to stress and overwork, which is undoubtedly having a negative impact on their productivity and the likelihood that they will stay with their employers.
There's no doubt that several factors are contributing to the current levels of employee stress:
- One-in-four employees reports that they continually have more work than they can finish,
- One-in-three agree strongly that their work is stressful, and
- Just one-in-four are able to find a satisfactory balance between personal/family obligations and career responsibilities.
These pressure points are likely having one of two impacts: (1) they are increasing turnover for those employees who can find alternative work OR (2) they are creating a larger group of "quit and stay" employees, who are the employees we characterize as "Dissatisfied Compromisers."
Possible solutions to the problems caused by employee stress and burnout include:
- Organizations are squeezing as much productivity as they can from all employees,
- Although staff levels have been downsized dramatically, there has not been a proportionate downsizing the amount of work to be done,
- The continuing economic crisis has led to continuing worries about job security, and
- Many employees have to cope with being in two-career couples or are working as single parents and may also have the added responsibilities of caring for their aging parents.
- Identifying "legacy tasks" that continue to be completed but are no longer necessary,
- Building a culture that encourages spontaneous acts of caring,
- Encouraging "connectedness" between employees so that they are more willing to ask for help when they need it, and
- Fostering a sense of fun at work (sad to say, just 45% of U.S. employees agree that "Senior management encourages employees to have fun at work.")