81+ statistics around workplace stress & employee burnout
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The prevalence of stress in the American workplace is so high that most workers have accepted it as a way of life. Odds are, so have you. But is something wrong when stress, instead of being an occasional state, becomes the norm? Wellness experts have been referring to American stress levels as an epidemic for years, and with good reason.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 71% of US millennials report being stressed out by work. Of Generation Z, the youngest segment of our workforce, 69% are already experiencing workplace stress, making it their second-highest source of stress only after health-related concerns.
We’ve aggregated the latest workplace stress statistics to get the word out about this very important topic. What we didn’t expect to find was that:
1. Stress is not an issue we face alone, and;
2. Stress can lead to burnout, but it is also a road to excellence, depending on how you manage it.
In addition to many more interesting findings we discuss throughout this article, these are the statistics that shocked us the most:
The key 2023 workplace stress statistics everyone should know about
- Workplace stress has a $300 billion annual price tag in the US alone.
- 56% of US workers in a corporate or government position feel at least somewhat burned out – a symptom of chronic stress.
- This includes 27% of workers who responded that they feel a high or very high degree of burnout, which is a threat to their long-term mental health.
- Burnout is negatively affecting employee retention in significant ways. 43% of Millennials and 44% of Gen Z workers have recently left a job as a direct result of burnout.
- Despite this, a fifth of workers in these groups reported that their employer was not doing enough to prevent employee burnout because they do not take it seriously.
- 75% of employers agree that supporting remote work improves employee retention.
- This makes sense because 63% of women and 52% of men believe remote work is less stressful.
- Remote workers are however not exempt from chronic stress. 30% of men and 21% of women who work remotely admit that they cram the productivity of six full working days into a 5-day work week.
- Workplace stress is caused by a number of factors, but according to 69% of stressed American workers, the main aggressor is receiving assignments with unrealistic deadlines.
- Despite outcries from employees who prefer remote and hybrid working arrangements, major employers are mandating they return to the office in 2023.
Is Workplace Stress an Epidemic Or a Global Pandemic?
The U.S. labor market and employees are not alone in the stress landscape. In fact, we’re not even the worst off.
Gallup’s Global 2022 Workplace Report cites that 44% of people surveyed across the world experience significant workplace stress on a daily basis. A slight increase from 43% in 2021.
North America, as a whole, comes in above this median, but still at second place with 50% of respondents admitting they feel the effects of stress. Same as Latin America and the Caribbean.
For East Asia, which tops the chart, this figure is 55%.
Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, and North Africa also beat the average.
- As a region, 47% of Australia and New Zealand experience workplace stress
- North Africa and the Middle East come in just above the median at 45%
In the previous (2021) Gallup Report, by comparison, the US and Canada is the most stressed region with 57% of respondents admitting to workplace stress.
The decline in American workplace stress may be attributed to how much more acutely the Covid-19 pandemic affected workers in 2021. It can also be due to progression in the workplace, like the recent increase in remote work, or increased efforts from employers to assist their staff in stress management.
Let’s take a closer look at stress to see.
What Is Stress Doing to Workers?
In Deloitte’s Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey half of the respondents were looking for a new job and 25% reported that they have quit a job due to the stress it caused. And who can blame them?
- 54% report stress from work has negatively affected their home life on a weekly or daily basis.
- 35% said they’ve lost their temper at work
- 39% had to take unplanned time off.
- More than half reported that stress negatively affects their ability to sleep.
From an employer’s perspective, an especially alarming stress statistic is this: 46% of workers admitted that, due to stress, they’ve stopped caring or “checked out” at times. In addition, 25% of respondents experienced a decline in their work quality due to stress.
We know stress is bad for our health, our mental wellbeing, and our work. So why are we still so stressed? What is it about our workplace culture that makes it so stressful? And, realistically speaking, should we be aiming for absolutely zero work-related stress?
Is work-related Stress Always Bad?
One of the paradoxes of stress is that it’s not an absolute evil.
Medical science has proven that stress is bad for our physical and mental health. But Kelly McGonigal’s famous 2013 TED talk argues that believing stress is bad for you is actually more dangerous than actually being stressed.
According to the study she cites, people who experienced a lot of stress in the prior year had a 43% increased risk of dying. However, that metric was only true for the people who also believed that stress is harmful to your health.
Working with set goals, deadlines and expectations will inevitably lead to workers feeling some pressure to deliver results. And shouldn’t it?
Companies employ workers with the expectation that they will add value to the organization. The employee should, therefore, ideally feel some responsibility (read: stress) to perform. Research also proves that employees who are experiencing too little stress are underutilized and unmotivated. Even bored.
Stress is a survival mechanism that allows your body to enter a high-performing state. A healthy level of stress can be the cognitive state where career growth happens and grandiose goals are achieved.
Wrike’s 2018 Stress in the Workplace Survey found that 33% of US respondents agreed with the statement “A little bit of stress can help me focus and get work done”. So there is an attainable Goldilocks zone where our stress levels are “just right” to achieve high performance. This desirable level of stress even has a name – Eustress.
We’ve established that zero stress is not the desired state, but neither is a toxic level of stress – or distress.
So let’s be clear. When we refer to workplace stress in this article, we’re talking about a high level of stress. This is medically referred to as chronic stress.