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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Overworked? Burned Out? Workers Say Yes to Both

Overworked? Burned Out? Workers Say Yes to Both
Credit: Jackson/Shutterstock

Long days and increased connectivity to the office are taking a toll on many employees, new research finds.

Although the vast majority of workers are happy with their jobs, more than half feel overworked and burned-out, according to a study from Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc.

For most employees, the days of working 9 to 5 are long gone. The research showed that about 25 percent of employees regularly work after the standard workday is done, while 40 percent work on weekends at least once a month.

Additionally, many employees are going full tilt throughout the day. Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed don't have time to take any breaks, and 45 percent eat lunch at their desks so they can keep working.

Other factors contributing to employee burnout include heavy workloads, the personal pressures workers put on themselves, time demands and work-life balance conflicts. [Erratic Work Schedules Killing Work-Life Balance ]

With the rise of the "always on" work culture, it shouldn't come as a surprise that employees are feeling overworked, said Dan Schawbel, one of the study's authors and founder of WorkplaceTrends.com, a research and advisory membership service for HR professionals.

"While many are still happy at work, we have to ask whether it's because they're truly inspired and motivated, or simply conditioned to the new reality," Schawbel said in a statement. "Either way, employers need to retain talent and optimize productivity, engagement and loyalty with employees."

Being overworked has several negative consequences for employers, the research found. Two-thirds of survey respondents said being burned-out is hurting their productivity, while 40 percent acknowledged that burnout is motivating them to look for a new job.

The study revealed that nearly half of employees believe that decreasing their workload and providing more time to complete tasks would minimize burnout. The specific steps they would like to see their employer take to help boost their happiness and decrease their feeling of being overworked include the following:

  • Provide a more flexible schedule
  • Encourage employees to take breaks
  • Improve technology
  • Add more office perks
  • Provide better office design

"This research uncovered a number of new benefits — such as flexible schedules, telecommuting, office perks and being an eco-friendly business — that have emerged as critical factors for balancing intensifying work demands with employees' personal lives," said Neil Ringel, executive vice president of Staples Advantage, North America.

Developing a workplace that fosters flexibility and a positive work-life balance is critical in retaining and attracting top talent, according to the study. Work-life balance trails only salaries as the most important aspect employees are looking for in a job. Additionally, 20 percent of the employees surveyed cited work-life balance issues as a reason for considering a job change, while nearly 30 percent identified it as a leading contributor of loyalty.

The study was based on surveys of 2,602 employees age 18 or older across companies ranging in size, geography and industry.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.