The biggest labor challenges facing today’s employers all lead back to the same place.
Labor crises have dominated organizations’ time, energy and resources for more than two years.
First, there was The Great Resignation, which morphed into The Great Regret, finally giving way to Quiet Quitting.
So, how can employers ensure that another labor conundrum won’t hijack their 2023?
Perhaps by focusing on the underlying issue that’s driven all these crises and remains a problem today — employee burnout.
The Great Resignation: A New Hope
A mind-boggling 71.6 million people separated from their jobs during The Great Resignation.
While employee burnout wasn’t the only reason behind this wave of departures, it certainly was a leading factor.
In fact, 40% of American workers cited burnout as the top reason for resigning in a survey by Limeade, a software company that closely monitored The Great Resignation’s progression.
A startling 39% of workers quit “because they were working too many hours,” according to Pew Research Center.
And in a survey by Flex Jobs, even higher pay came in second to work-life balance as the reason employees were switching jobs or careers.
Seemingly every American worker was searching for a reprieve from unrelenting stress.
At the same time, a paradigm shift was taking place that favored quality of life over hustle and grind, which massively shifted people’s priorities.
In the spirit of reprioritizing to focus more on well-being, many employees sought organizations emphasizing work-life balance.
Unfortunately, most of them didn’t find it.
The Great Regret: Meet The New Boss, Same as The Old Boss
The Great Resignation gave way to The Great Regret after millions of those who left their jobs discovered that quitting wasn’t necessarily all it cracked up to be.
And once again, burnout was the main culprit.
American employees found that they were working just as much, if not more, than they had in their previous roles, making work-life balance an even more elusive goal.
A Harris Poll found that only 26% of job switchers planned to stay in their new position, and dissatisfaction with work-life balance topped the list of reasons.
Overall, 36% of the poll’s respondents cited diminished work-life balance as the main reason they were unhappy with their new company.
During The Great Regret, employee burnout sat at 49%.
But the jaw-droppingly high job dissatisfaction and burnout rate didn’t trigger another massive job reshuffle; instead, it set the stage for a new trend.
Quiet Quitting: The Silent Backlash
By the summer of 2022, Quiet Quitting, the practice of doing the absolute bare minimum at work, which started as a Tik-Tok trend, had turned into a “cultural phenomenon.”
With a recession looming on the horizon and a tightening job market, burned-out workers who were too afraid to leave their jobs started leaning out at work.
In fact, a Gallup Poll found that burnout drove 50% of the workforce to adopt the practice of Quiet Quitting.
For employees, it was a last-ditch coping strategy to deal with long-term stress and retain their personal lives discreetly.
Consequently, productivity hit an all-time low, leaving employers scrambling.
That is until mid-November of 2022, when news of layoffs began, effectively killing Quiet Quitting almost overnight.
New Year. Same Problems.
Today, job-insecure employees are holding on to their positions tightly.
With layoffs consistently making the news cycle, productivity also has picked up.
But where does this leave employers once the recession ends and the labor market turns again?
Perhaps to The Great Resignation part deux.
After all, the same conditions that preceded The Great Resignation still exist: Burnout is still sky-high. Wages aren’t keeping up with inflation. And work-life balance is giving way to higher productivity demands.
The Great Employee Burnout Crisis
The Great Resignation, The Great Regret and Quiet Quitting should be repackaged and rebranded as one big labor permacrisis called The Great Employee Burnout Crisis.
The first step to solving a problem is correctly identifying the problem itself.
Only after employers recognize that burnout is the real long-term crisis will they be able to move forward. And move forward, they must.
Because neither employers nor employees can afford to lose the burnout battle for a third year in a row.
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