July 06, 2023: A significant percentage of Canadians continue to experience burnout, with no decline compared to the previous year. Between a quarter and a third of the population is feeling burned out, and 36% of employees feel even more burned out than before. To tackle this issue effectively, companies must understand the root causes of burnout and take it seriously.
As an expert in organizational governance, my research focuses on studying employees’ experiences within their workplaces. Last summer, I highlighted the high levels of burnout in Canada and discussed potential solutions. Workplaces must move away from simply placing the responsibility of managing burnout on employees and instead examine the workload and expectations they impose.
Burnout encompasses various symptoms, including emotional depletion, detachment, cynicism, low personal accomplishment, and depersonalization, which creates a sense that work does not belong to oneself. Unfortunately, many organizations have not addressed the root causes of burnout, leading employees to resort to a practice known as “quiet quitting.”
Quiet quitting involves doing only what is required for the job and nothing more. Employees are setting boundaries to prevent burnout, even though most workplaces still need to adjust their workload or how work is done to alleviate this issue. Gallup’s 2023 report reveals that a majority of employees worldwide are engaging in quiet quitting. This approach allows individuals to maintain better work-life boundaries and protect their well-being.
The prevalence of quiet quitting indicates that many workplaces need to be adequately addressing or taking burnout seriously enough. Consequently, work remains the primary source of stress for Canadians. Overworked environments, toxic organizational cultures, and inadequate support systems contribute to this ongoing problem.
Unsurprisingly, a recent survey found that one-third of Canadians have left their jobs due to burnout, while one in four businesses in Canada needs help with employee retention. To address burnout effectively, employers must reassess the workload imposed on their employees and consider its feasibility within the given time frame. Additionally, organizations need to address toxic cultures and take active steps to reduce toxicity in the workplace.
Organizational leaders should prioritize listening to their employees and foster a supportive environment that demonstrates empathy rather than mere rhetoric. It is crucial to follow words with actions, ensuring that the work environment meets the needs of employees.
However, addressing burnout requires more than just financial incentives. While higher salaries may be enticing, achieving an excellent work-life balance often takes precedence. Flexibility is critical, allowing employees to manage their care work responsibilities, especially as women often bear a disproportionate burden. Providing flexible work arrangements and understanding the needs of employees, including the challenges faced in arranging child care, are vital steps toward creating accommodating and supportive workplaces.
Forward-thinking companies have already started taking action by reducing workloads, offering prolonged or unlimited paid leave, implementing four-day work weeks, and allowing flexible work arrangements between on-site and remote work. These initiatives prioritize employee well-being and provide opportunities for rejuvenation.
Workplaces need to acknowledge that flexibility does not equate to decreased reliability. Employees seeking flexibility should not be viewed as less committed than those working longer hours in traditional office settings.
Employers must proactively address the root causes and create supportive workplace cultures to combat the rising burnout epidemic. By revisiting workloads, tackling toxicity, and implementing flexible policies, companies can prioritize the well-being of their employees and foster a more productive and sustainable work environment.