Almost Half of Young Workers Are Burnt Out, Flexibility Can Help

94% of workers are looking for more flexibility, but are executives willing to listen?
Isobel O'Sullivan

As business leaders continue to iron out their post-Covid strategy, companies like Netflix and Goldman Sachs believe spending more time in the office is the best way to unlock a more engaged, productive workforce. However, a new study by Future Forum suggests that the opposite could be true.

The report, which surveyed more than 10,000 global workers, revealed that remote and hybrid employees are actually more likely to feel connected to their direct managers than full-time office workers, and 4% more productive to boot. The survey also revealed that although burnout is at an all-time high, executives are still dragging their feet when it comes to embracing flexible environments.

Here's a summary of the report's main findings, as well as practical advice for employers serious about tackling burnout in their teams.

Worker Burnout is at an All-Time High, Report Shows

With Gen Z concepts like quiet quitting and quiet firing gaining momentum in recent months, the subject of employee dissatisfaction has once again entered the mainstream.

And now, thanks to a recent survey conducted by the workplace consortium Future Forum, these hunches have been backed up by data. The report, which was released earlier this week, summarized the findings of 10,776 workers from the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K., and found that workplace burnout has risen to 40%, an 8% jump from May this year.

The report found that of all the countries featured, the most significant increase was found in the US, with 43% of desk-based employees claiming to have worked themselves to exhaustion. What's more, age and gender also seem to play influencing factors with 49% of workers aged 18-29 experiencing burnout symptoms, and 32% more females experiencing the condition than males.

“There’s a sizable (and growing) gender gap between women and men on the issue of burnout, with women 32% more likely to experience burnout compared with men.”

But while junior workers appear to be experiencing more stress in the workplace, their higher-ups aren't exempt. In fact, company execs have reported experiencing a record-low 15% drop in overall satisfaction and 40% more work-related stress and anxiety over the past year.

With the findings of the survey revealing that burned-out employees are 22x more likely to experience stress and anxiety, and 32% less likely to be productive, these rising case numbers are pretty alarming. But with job burnout increasing across the board, Future Forum does propose one major antidote — giving workers greater opportunities to work flexibly.

Could More Flexibility in the Workplace Be the Remedy?

Flexible working delivers multiple benefits to companies, and the 74% of U.S. businesses currently using or planning to roll out hybrid or remote models would probably agree.

Moreover, as the results of the Future Forum research have shown, these advantages extend much further than reinstating a healthier work-life balance. For instance, respondents that have full flexibility over their schedule reported being 29% more productive and 53% more able to focus than those who had fixed working days. This is a major revelation for employers that have been calling for a full return to the office for this very reason.

Aside from increasing workload, remote and hybrid workers also reported being more connected to their immediate team members, as well as their wider company values. This challenges the common sentiment that fragmented teams could lead to weaker social and professional bonds.

As the results of the survey have shown, giving workers the freedom to work in a way that suits them has the potential to improve workplace bonds, employee satisfaction, and even a company's bottom line. But even though embracing flexible working is a tried and tested strategy to tackle burnout, many business owners are slow to catch on.

Employees and Executives Aren't Seeing Eye to Eye

Fortunately for fans of flexible working, the majority of non-executives and executives both favor hybrid models. However, while 38% of higher-ups prefer to work in office environments for 3-4 days a week, this number drops to 24% for employers further down the rank.

Findings form the Future Forum survey

Their reasons for coming into the physical workplace differ too. When asked about their motivations for working at the office, both cited collaboration as the number one incentive. But while execs cited facetime with management to be their close second (at 20%), non-executives were more driven by building camaraderie (27%).

“We need to move forward to a new path, and that requires engaging your employees to establish new ways of working together.” – one of the founding partners of Future Forum

While this might not seem like a massive discrepancy, this difference in opinion matters. The majority of executives surveyed in the report admitted to designing company policies with no direct input from employees. This means that more often than not, the opinions of regular workers get disregarded when it comes to making important decisions.

If decision-makers continue to base company-wide policies on their own workplace experiences, important issues like worker burnout may remain unaddressed. But embracing remote and hybrid models wouldn't be possible without collaborative technology. So, if you're choosing to listen to the 94% of workers who are calling for greater flexibility, it's important to choose your software wisely.

According to our research, GoTo Meeting is the best conferencing call service for businesses thanks to its reliable call quality and free VoIP extensions. However, Zoom is another fan favorite, especially if you're just starting out on the software.

Every business has slightly different needs, however, so to discover which call service will work best for your team, read our summary of the best conference call providers here.

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Isobel is a writer at Tech.co with a wealth of experience covering business and technology news. Since specializing in Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also spent time working as a freelance tech researcher. As a writer, Isobel takes a particular interest in issues regarding data security, social media, and emerging business technology.

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