In a new research conducted by Future Forum, an online channel that works with executives, thought leaders, and academics to publish research, case studies, playbooks, and reports that highlight best practices and drive discussion about the future of work, it is evident that burnout from workplace stress has skyrocketed since 2021.
According to the results of the research, over 40% of the 10,243 full time employees polled in six countries are burned out. The World Health Organization defines burnout as an increased mental distance from one’s job, or having feelings of energy depletion, and negativism.
The 42% marks a new record since the Future Forum began measuring work burnout in May 2021. Around that time, 38% of workers reported burnout.
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However, there are two types of people who are at a greater risk of burnout than everyone else, and those are women and workers under 30.
There is no great evidence yet as to why burnout is particularly hitting women and younger working adults compared to other demographics, but experts agree that intersecting stressors from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainties have caused disengagement within these groups.
What causes the stress in millennials and Gen Z is that they have entered the workforce during a global pandemic and ongoing concerns over rising inflation, recession fears, and intense geopolitical conflict.
While these concerns are everywhere, there is a very high stress level among young people who feel that they have less control and stability in their careers.
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According to psychologist Debbie Sorensen, “younger millennials and Gen Z were raised with a lot of pressure to be high achievers, but are starting their careers in a chaotic landscape where they have little autonomy and freedom to find a meaningful, well-paid job.” She also pointed out the companies’ ever-changing return-to-office policies, proliferating layoffs, and hiring freezes as leading contributors to burnout.
Employees who are under 30 are also more likely to have layoff anxiety, as newer, less experienced employees are often among the first to be targeted for job cuts, according to Brian Elliot, the executive leader of the Future Forum.
These are causing Gen Z and young millennials to be more detached and less fulfilled with their professional lives. Based on the 2022 data from Gallup, workers under 35 are much more disengaged with their jobs compared to their older counterparts.
There has also been a worse case of the gender burnout gap. Women have reported higher levels of burnout than men for years, a gap that has multiplied even more since 2019.
The reasoning behind this widening gap can be boiled down to gender inequities. Research shows that women are less likely to be promoted than men yet more likely to head single-parent families and take on unpaid labor which can cause burnout.
Moreover, women are more likely to work in low-paid jobs, some of which, like health care and eldercare, have become “extremely stressful” in the wake of the pandemic.
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