The new talent challenge is employee burnout

There’s no denying that work-related “burnout” has become a harsh reality for Canadian professionals. According to a comprehensive study conducted by Mental Health Research Canada, a whopping 35 per cent of Canadian workers are feeling burned out. 

Although some Canadians have been experiencing fatigue and workplace stress prior to the pandemic, the current climate coupled with the ongoing labour shortage has escalated the circumstances. The gap in teams has meant that many employees are covering two or more roles. While Statistics Canada’s December Labour Report had many positives, the January Labour Report has brought forth the issue of work-related burnout among Canadian workers.

Some of the most significant statistics of the January report include:

Record-high share of employees missing work due to illness and disability:

Statistics Canada reports 1 in 10 employees were absent from their job for all or part of the reference week due to illness or disability. Prior to Jan 2022, the highest observed level of absences due to illness or disability was 8.1 percent in March 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of these absences can certainly be attributed to the fifth wave of the pandemic sweeping in Canada, it is unlikely to be the only contributing factor.

Changes in the percentage of professionals seeking job change:

Last month, Statistics Canada asked respondents whether they were planning to leave their current job. Interestingly only 7.3 per cent of respondents indicated they were planning to leave their current job within the next 12 months, compared to 20 per cent who reported searching for new employment in a survey conducted by Hanover Research.

Burnout-related behaviour:

The Hanover Research survey additionally found a much higher rate of Canadian workers expressing burnout, with 84 per cent of respondents reporting burnout symptoms. While this is a massive increase compared to Mental Health Research Canada’s findings, Hanover Research also stated 34 per cent of respondents reported high or extreme levels, mirroring Mental Health Research Canada’s findings. What this tells us is while a third of Canadians are feeling burned out to a level of mental health concern, nearly half of Canadians are on their way to feeling the same way.

Over the last two years, we’ve been working on several resources on the Talent Squeeze and how Canadian employers can navigate this new world of work. 

“A tight labour pool in Canada was always in our future,” says Craig Brown, CEO of Agilus. “The labour squeeze was predicted to hit a few sectors particularly hard, but a generous immigration policy was thought to mitigate most talent gaps. However, the global pandemic changed everything and our labour shortage, in addition to economic uncertainty and unprecedented debt, has businesses in an unenviable position of not having enough talent for open jobs.”

Employees are central to the success of any organization and business leaders need to take deliberate steps to manage employee burnout if they want to minimize employee attrition.

3 ways to manage employee burnout:

Support your employees:

Across all three previously mentioned surveys the number one driver for those planning to leave their current job is quality of employment. The consistent message is that few working Canadians feel they’re receiving enough support from their employer.
Just like business leaders, employees and professionals have had to make several disruptive changes to their work and life in the past couple of years. Business leaders that are cognizant of this and go the extra mile to offer empathy and support to their employees are less likely to have employees who experience stress and fatigue, whether it is offering flexible working hours, flexibility to take care of personal commitments, or perhaps technology support.

Celebrate the success of your employees:
Employees are vital to the success of your business, and it is important for your employees to feel good about where they work. A recent article by the Harvard Business Review cites several studies that show employees expect more than just a paycheck from their employers. They aspire to know that they are making a difference within their companies and it is incumbent to business leaders and managers to find ways to celebrate and appreciate their work.

Create flexible work options:
There has been plenty written and reported on the demand and benefits of remote work and business leaders are already considering whether that works for their business or not. Flexible work goes beyond where employees work, including job sharing, sabbaticals, asynchronistic work, cross-training and managing output rather than time and productivity. The Future of Work is the Future of Talent. Creating unique human-centered employee experiences where they can be their whole selves is paramount to reducing burnout and absenteeism.

We know the new world of work can be overwhelming to navigate, but that’s why we’re here to help you. Our client success managers keep their finger on the pulse and are constantly delivering vital feedback to reduce employee turnover and improve employee relations. If you’re ready to take your employee experience to the next level, reach out to our team!

Looking for even more insights on the future of work? Click here to download our 2022 Salary Guide and Future of Work report, with exclusive insights from business leaders across Canada.

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