Stubbornly persistent labour shortages in Canada have left companies over-reliant on a workforce already burdened from recently going through the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s causing many employees to burn out, according to a new survey from The Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.
More than three-quarters of Canadian employees say they felt burnt out in their careers at some point (78%), with more than 1 in 3 responding that they are currently burnt out at work (35%).
Nearly all employees (96%) who have felt burnt out believe their company could take actions to help prevent it. But while the vast majority of companies (84%) report measures in place to help prevent employee burnout, there is a mismatch between what workers want and what companies are providing.
According to the survey, employees cite flexible work schedules (53%), as the number one way in which companies can prevent burnout. Other actions include providing incentives/bonuses (50%) and encouraging time off (47%).
On the other hand, the top way employers say they are trying to prevent burnout is by recognizing employees for a job well done (44%). Other actions companies are taking include allowing flexible work schedules (40%), prioritizing health and safety of employees (35%), facilitating small breaks throughout the workday (34%) and encouraging time off (31%).
The survey also shows that ensuring companies offer more than a salary and standard benefits package may also help prevent burnout, as a strong majority of hiring managers agree that today’s candidates are looking for jobs that can provide more fulfillment in their lives (87%) or are more meaningful (82%).
Employee burnout is top of mind right now for many companies and employees, according to Curtis Debogorski, an Express franchise owner in Red Deer, Alberta.
“Work-life balance is front and centre as a want and need for applicants and many employers now appear to recognize this in how they advertise and market their open roles,” said Debogorski. “Employee burnout will be an ongoing hot issue, especially for companies that do not have the resources to deal with it effectively.”
Companies face many negative consequences due to employee burnout according to Debogorski.
“High rate of turnover, increased illness and sicks days, attendance issues, low morale and compound overtime costs can have severe impacts on employers,” he said.
Debogorski believes companies should take proactive steps to combat employee burnout.
“Communicate regularly with your employees, watch body language and communication in meetings to identify warning signs of burnout, encourage physical and mental health breaks, support vacation time, team building activities and employee recognition to help take the emphasis off just ‘work’, use a temporary help service to support project work and offer a comprehensive benefits plan,” suggests Debogorski. “Companies have more resources and strategies than ever to combat burnout. However, whether they measure and identify issues, provide solutions and interventions, all depends on the leadership team and whether it is important to them.”
Debogorski also encourages employees to act before burnout occurs.
“Burnout is a real thing and needs to be addressed. Employees can have a role in preventing burnout by discussing it with colleagues or professional services if needed,” said Debogorski. “Management is not always aware that burnout is occurring. Communicate concerns to supervisors in a clear and honest manner and bring solutions to the leadership group that may alleviate the issue.”
Turnover is costly and time-consuming, which means companies should make every effort to retain top talent in their headcount, according to Express Employment International CEO Bill Stoller.
“The fatigue of the labour shortage affects almost every area of business, but there are steps business owners can take to keep their most important assets healthy—their employees,” he said. “Small gestures can go a long way to prevent worker burnout and the negative consequences that come with it.”
The Job Insights survey was conducted online within Canada by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between Dec. 1 and Dec. 15, 2022, among 506 Canadian hiring decision-makers (defined as adults ages 18+ in Canada who are employed full-time or self-employed, work at companies with more than one employee, and have full/significant involvement in hiring decisions at their company). Data were weighted where necessary by company size to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 4.6 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. This credible interval will be wider among subsets of the surveyed population of interest.
The omnibus survey was conducted online within Canada by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals from Dec. 13-15, 2022, among 1,050 adults ages 18 and older. Data are weighted where necessary by age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, marital status, household size, household income and propensity to be online, to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 3.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.