More Than Half of Government Employees Report Burnout

Despite an economy roiled by a waning pandemic, increasing inflation, and global political instability, employers in both the public and private sectors are still struggling to fill roles, with September employment data showing a 3.5% unemployment rate and over a quarter of a million jobs added. Workers are continuing to feel the pressure of having to make up the labor deficit, with high levels of workforce burnout a seeming feature of the business world over the past two years. While new research from Eagle Hill Consulting shows burnout rates beginning to fall, it is happening more slowly in the public sectors.

The research is based on an Ipsos poll from August 11-16, 2022, of 1,003 respondents from a random sample of U.S. employees – including 739 federal, state, and local government employees – who were polled about burnout and vacation.

"Public employees point to practical steps employers can take to reduce burnout – from increased scheduling flexibility to better health and wellness benefits.” said Melissa Jezior, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Government leaders are wise to fully understand exactly what is driving burnout at their agency and to have honest conversations with workers about what will help address the problem. Good news from our research is that most government employees feel comfortable telling their employer about their burnout levels, so initiating those conversations is a great place to start.”

The survey’s key findings reflected struggles well-known to workers dealing with the business environment of recent years, with 82% of respondents indicating they were covering the workload for unfilled positions, and slightly less than half of respondents reporting that workload, a lack of communication and support, and staff shortages were the top causes of burnout. Roughly 40% of the government workforce responded that they were planning on leaving their job within the next 12 months.

Respondents had good news for employers as well as proposed solutions: 63% of employees indicated they felt comfortable telling their manager or employer about feeling burnt out, and 67% indicated a four-day work week and increased flexibility would help their stress levels. A further 63% of workers stated reducing workloads would help provide relief. 63% suggested working from home, 57% requested increased health and wellness benefits, and more than half asked for reduced administrative burdens.

As the “Great Resignation” appears to continue in spite of a looming recession, employers would do well to listen to their people and take decisive action to improve their working environments and compensation to avoid losing their talent to greener pastures.