The Secrets to Stopping The Workplace Burnout Pandemic!!!

The Secrets to Stopping The Workplace Burnout Pandemic!!!

Organizations are losing between 250-350 billion dollars every year to burnout! They are losing another estimated 500 Billion to Disengagement! 

According to a 2013 Gallup workplace poll, over 70% of Americans say they are disengaged from their jobs.

 That disengagement/burnout translates to more sick days, errors or negligent performance, bad moods, and one more day of your life you could have spent doing something you enjoyed. For employers, it means massive financial losses on healthcare costs, absenteeism, turnover, dealing with employee mistakes, and lowered performance.  Don’t believe us? Check out some of these alarming statistics:

-Unscheduled absenteeism accounted for 9–12% of all payroll costs last year. In public transportation, unscheduled absenteeism related costs accounted for 1/4 of their entire operating budgets.

-There has been a sharp rise in workplace suicides. Doctors are 4x as likely to commit suicide than the general population.

-There are over 100,000 doctors and nurses actively abusing prescription drugs to cope with job stress.

-Turnover rates have skyrocketed with some industries experiencing employee attrition of up to 50%.  Some are experiencing turnover rates of up to 80% of all applicants by the time they hit their 1 year mark.

-Just 4 hospital stays can cost an organization $100k

Worker replacement can cost companies between 50% and 200% of a worker’s annual salary. While some organizations have begun to shift their culture to become more supportive, conducting smarter hiring, too many leaders wrongly assume burnout is a byproduct of laziness or that they need harsher disciplinary measures.

Over the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to work with and train thousands of workforce and management employees. Regardless of the industry, workers tend to share many of the same criticisms of their bosses. Even though wages have stagnated or shrunk and companies that offer full pension and benefits have moved towards the single digits, most frustrations for workers stem from:

-How they are treated.
-About feeling underprepared to deal with their job stress.
-Being overworked and under-supported.
– Not feeling invested in.

One of the biggest mistakes that leaders can make is to see employee engagement initiatives as too “touchy-feely.” Neglecting workers in these areas will increase absenteeism, health care costs, turnover, behavior related write-up’s, lawsuits, and destroy customer interactions and satisfaction.

Baby Boomers have the lowest engagement rate at just 26% saying they are engaged, compared to 33% of generation Y.

The U.S. economy loses “an estimated $200 billion to $300 billion annually because of widespread disengagement among American employees.”

Workplaces that meet “mental health and wellness” criteria have significantly higher performance than ones who do not.

The decreased productivity of each disengaged employee costs each employer $3,400 to $10,000 in salaries per year, according to Gallup research.

Unscheduled absenteeism costs between $3,000 to $3,600 per person per year.

The average cost of unscheduled absenteeism for a company of 1,000 people is $2.52 million a year.

The total cost of unplanned employee absences exceeds 9% -12% of payroll costs, taking into account both the direct costs (disability, salary continuation, etc.) and indirect costs, such as replacement labor expenses and lost productivity.

Teams with high levels of engagement sell over 20% more than teams with low engagement.

Seventy percent of all job absenteeism is tied to stress-related illnesses.

According to the 2010 Harvard Wellness in the Workplace Study, there was a $3.27 return for every $1 invested in resiliency and wellness.

The American Institute for Preventative Medicine found a $5.93 return for every $1 invested in evidence-based wellness programs.

To combat the fallout of these obstacles, bosses/leaders/managers/boards need to be asking key questions:

-Do our workers feel respected and heard?

-Are we helping them connect with a sense of purpose or meaning in their work? Do we help them see the role they play in the company-wide vision?

-Do we engage them in around making decisions that directly affect them?

-Do we regularly ask for feedback about our performance as leaders?

-Do we offer assistance to reduce worker burnout?

-Here is a short video describing the symptoms of burnout:

-Do we provide training or wellness initiatives that support emotional and physical health?

-Are we trained to recognize these issues when they arise?

Case Study: In 2010, our firm, Red Kite Project was brought in by a Philadelphia-area company to address employee performance. We created an intensive 5-day training program geared towards building resilience, engagement, and coping skills (for managing stress, conflict and violence.) After tracking employees for 18 months (vs. those who didn’t go through the intervention), we were able to reduce absenteeism among frontline professionals by over 49% and reduce customer complaints by 41%.

Employees who feel supported, engaged, and respected are scientifically proven to be more resilient, perform better, boost their company’s bottom line, and lead better lives. It’s not only the “ethical” thing to do, it’s the financially smart choice. “Rise above” these obstacles, and become a hero in your organization.


Mercer, “The Total Financial Impact of Employee Absences,” October 2008

R.L. Weiseman, Personal Stress, Depression, and Workplace Performance

Gallup 2013 Workplace Poll

Corporate Executive Board Research 2014

Harvard Business Review

Harvard Wellness Study 2010

American Institute for Preventative Medicine wellness initiative study

-Zach Stone


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