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How Common Is Employee Burnout Worldwide?

Employee burnout is a pervasive and concerning issue affecting the global workforce. It has far-reaching implications for both individuals and organisations, impacting productivity, mental health, and overall well-being.

In this comprehensive article, Jake Biggs, who is a leading burnout prevention expert in Sydney, Australia will explore the prevalence of employee burnout worldwide, its underlying causes, and potential solutions.

Drawing from recent studies and data, Jake Biggs will shed light on the extent of this problem and provide insights into how individuals and organisations can address it effectively.

Prevalence of Employee Burnout

Global Perspective:

Employee burnout is a global phenomenon, affecting workers across different countries and industries. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, work-related stress and burnout are on the rise, with an estimated 264 million people experiencing depression and anxiety disorders worldwide (WHO, 2020). These disorders are often linked to workplace stress and burnout, underscoring the global nature of the issue.

Regional Variances:

While burnout is prevalent worldwide, its prevalence varies by region. A global survey conducted by Gallup in 2020 found that regions like South Asia and Southeast Asia had some of the highest levels of employee burnout, with over 70% of workers experiencing symptoms of burnout (Gallup, 2020). In contrast, regions like Northern Europe reported relatively lower levels of burnout, with around 35% of workers affected.

Industry-Specific Data:

Different industries also experience varying degrees of burnout. The healthcare sector, for instance, has been particularly affected, with a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine reporting that over 40% of physicians in the United States experience burnout (Shanafelt et al., 2020). Similarly, the tech industry has witnessed a surge in burnout cases, as reported by a study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology (Bennett & Robinson, 2021).

Causes of Employee Burnout

Workload and Job Demands:

One of the primary causes of burnout is excessive workload and job demands. In an increasingly competitive and fast-paced work environment, employees are often expected to do more with fewer resources, leading to chronic stress and burnout (Maslach & Leiter, 2016).

Lack of Control:

A sense of lack of control over one's work or the work environment can contribute to burnout. When employees feel they have little autonomy or influence over their tasks and decisions, they are more likely to experience burnout (Schaufeli et al., 2009).

Work-Life Imbalance:

The blurring of boundaries between work and personal life, exacerbated by technology and remote work, has made it challenging for individuals to disconnect from work. This work-life imbalance is a significant contributor to burnout (Greenhaus & Allen, 2011).

Organisational Factors:

Organisational factors such as poor leadership, ineffective communication, and a toxic workplace culture can foster burnout. Employees who perceive their workplaces as unsupportive or hostile are at a higher risk (Saks & Gruman, 2018).

Personal Factors:

Personal factors, including personality traits, coping mechanisms, and prior mental health issues, can make some individuals more susceptible to burnout (Bianchi et al., 2015). These factors interact with workplace conditions to influence burnout risk.

Solutions to Employee Burnout

Promote Work-Life Balance:

Employers should encourage work-life balance by implementing policies that support flexible working hours, paid time off, and clear expectations regarding after-hours communication. This helps employees disconnect from work and recharge.

Create Supportive Work Environments:

Organisations can foster supportive work environments by promoting positive leadership, open communication, and employee well-being programs. Building a culture of respect and empathy can mitigate burnout risk (Schein, 2016).

Manage Workload:

Employers should assess and manage workload, ensuring that employees are not overwhelmed with excessive demands. Delegating tasks, providing resources, and setting realistic goals are essential in preventing burnout (Schaufeli et al., 2009).

Offer Mental Health Support:

Providing access to mental health resources, such as counselling services or employee assistance programs, can help individuals cope with stress and address burnout symptoms (Nieuwenhuijsen et al., 2010).

Employee Training:

Offering training on stress management, resilience, and coping strategies can empower employees to better handle the pressures of their jobs (Richardson & Rothstein, 2008).

Regular Exercise:

Regular physical activity offers several benefits for preventing and alleviating burnout:

- Stress Reduction: Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. It helps reduce stress and anxiety, common contributors to burnout.

- Increased Energy Levels: Regular exercise can boost energy and vitality, helping employees stay alert and focused during work hours.

- Improved Mental Health: Physical activity has been linked to improved mental health, reduced symptoms of depression, and better self-esteem.

Quality Sleep:

Adequate sleep is essential for overall well-being and is closely linked to burnout prevention:

- Restoration: Sleep allows the body and mind to rest, recover, and repair, reducing the cumulative effects of stress.

- Cognitive Function: Sleep is crucial for cognitive functioning, including memory, problem-solving, and decision-making, all of which are critical for work performance.

- Emotional Regulation: Quality sleep helps regulate emotions and enhances an individual's ability to cope with stressors effectively.

Stress Management:

Learning to manage stress is vital for preventing burnout:

- Coping Skills: Stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, and time management can help employees deal with workplace pressures.

- Work-Life Balance: Encouraging a healthy work-life balance and setting boundaries can reduce chronic stress and burnout risk.

- Supportive Environment: A supportive workplace culture that offers resources for managing stress can significantly benefit employees.


Proper nutrition is fundamental for sustaining energy and resilience against burnout:

- Energy Levels: A balanced diet provides the necessary nutrients to maintain energy levels throughout the day.

- Mental Clarity: Good nutrition supports cognitive function, aiding concentration and problem-solving abilities.

- Immune Function: A well-nourished body is better equipped to handle stress and resist illness, reducing absenteeism due to burnout-related health issues.

Employee burnout is a widespread concern affecting workers across the globe. Its causes are multifaceted, rooted in both individual and organisational factors. However, by acknowledging the prevalence of burnout, understanding its underlying causes, and implementing effective solutions, individuals and organisations can work together to create healthier and more productive workplaces. It is essential to prioritise employee well-being and mental health to mitigate the adverse effects of burnout and foster a more engaged and satisfied workforce.


World Health Organization (WHO). (2020). Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak. Retrieved from

Gallup. (2020). Employee Burnout: Causes and Cures. Retrieved from

Shanafelt, T. D., et al. (2020). Changes in Burnout and Satisfaction With Work-Life Balance in Physicians and the General US Working Population Between 2011 and 2017. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 35(2), 530-536.

Bennett, A. A., & Robinson, S. L. (2021). Burnout in the Eye of the Beholder: The Influence of Gendered Workplace Norms on Tech Workers' Experiences. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 26(4), 292-308.

Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (2016). Understanding burnout: New models for the old problem of employee exhaustion. In Cooper, C. L., & Quick, J. C. (Eds.), The Handbook of Stress and Health: A Guide to Research and Practice (pp. 36-57). Wiley.

Schaufeli, W. B., et al. (2009). Work Engagement: Measurement and Validation across Countries and Occupations. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(4), 389-421.

Greenhaus, J. H., & Allen, T. D. (2011). Work-Family Balance: A Review and Extension of the Literature. In Zedeck, S. (Ed.), APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 165-183). American Psychological Association.

Saks, A. M., & Gruman, J. A. (2018). What do we really know about employee engagement? Human Resource Development Quarterly, 29(2), 83-97.

Bianchi, R., et al. (2015). The Role of Personality Traits in the Work-related Stressor–Strain Process: A Fixed-effects Analysis in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(6), 1692-170

How Common Is Employee Burnout Worldwide

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