15 Shocking Realities Exposing America’s Exhaustion Crisis

Since 2022, a staggering 77% of America’s workforce has said they have felt burned out in the workplace. This is so much so that millennials, who make up the largest percentage of employees, have been dubbed the ‘burnout generation.’ Let’s look at the causes behind this epidemic.

Healthcare Strain

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As of 2019, 51% of nursing staff in the USA are millennials, and 31% of physicians are millennials. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic put a tremendous strain on the healthcare industry, making it easy to see why it is one of the highest-complaining industries for burnout symptoms. 

Recession Fears

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Workers are reluctant to advocate for better working conditions because they fear being fired if the global economy dips into recession.

According to Vex, “Workers are also potentially less likely to fight for better conditions, including more remote work than they were in the first couple years of the pandemic. Now a recession could be on the horizon, meaning employers could cut jobs — a possibility that could, by extension, lessen employees’ resolve to quit.”

We Over-Prioritize Our Careers

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Career climbing has become more about feeling successful and accomplished than earning a wage, and it’s taking its toll.

The relentless focus on career achievements is a significant factor contributing to increased stress and burnout, emphasizing the importance of achieving a healthier work-life balance.

Toxic Workplaces

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According to a study conducted by Dr Christina Maslach for the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) at the University of Berkeley, California, the reasons behind workplace burnout are:

  • Unfair treatment at work
  • Unmanageable workload
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Lack of communication and support from their manager
  • Unreasonable time pressure

This information was extracted from a survey interviewing 7,500 employees, suggesting toxic workplaces are at the core of burnout.

Uncertain Economy

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The economy has been unsteady since the 2008 crash. Other factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and political conflict, have contributed to instability and uncertainty in the workplace for almost two decades.

Many people share concerns about these issues, but it’s especially tough for younger generations who feel they have little control and stability in their careers, leading to exceptionally high-stress levels.

Higher Workloads

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According to statistics from The Burnout Epidemic Report 2021, 44% of interviewees cited higher workloads post-pandemic as the primary reason for feeling burned out.

“When we asked all employees to rate their current workload, 55% said it’s higher than before the pandemic. Of those, 28% said it’s “significantly higher.” All that extra work exacerbates burnout: Employees reported their number one burnout contributor is being asked to take on more work.”

Lack of Managerial Support

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Often, burned-out employees don’t feel confident enough to talk to their management about their workplace stresses for fear of being ignored, blamed, or even fired.

Vacations Aren’t Enough

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With many American companies offering little to no annual paid leave, workers aren’t getting sufficient time off. And those who can feel like it’s not enough to remedy the symptoms of burnout. 

Too Much Overtime

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Americans are burning the candle at both ends by spending too many hours working overtime to make ends meet. This may result in higher earnings at the end of the month, but at what cost?  

Remote Working

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While remote/hybrid working has multiple benefits, such as better work-home-life balance, less commuting, better for the environment, etc., it can be debilitating for many. The lack of social interaction and sitting in front of the screen all day can suddenly become a burden too heavy to carry.

Parental/Societal Pressure

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In the last few decades, Americans have been pushed to do it all: get the grades, make the team, get into college, work while in college, make a career, get married, have a family, do this, that, and the other – and it’s too much.

Author and entrepreneur Robert Glazer said, “I believe strongly that many parents, kids, and educators today have completely lost sight of the fact that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Over the past two decades, our society has placed far too much pressure on the first leg of the race of life.”

The Digital Era

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While apps, social media, forums, and everything in between have many benefits, could they be the reason behind the growing number of burned-out Americans?

Initially, having constant access to laptops and phones created the opportunity and temptation to work even during leisure time. Additionally, social media platforms favored by Gen-Zers and Millennials celebrate the idea of working excessively. This culture of overwork thrives on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, where individuals showcase their productivity and achievements, further reinforcing the notion that overworking is both normal and commendable.

Feeling a Lack of Control

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As functioning, independent adults, a full need for control over our lives and surroundings is intrinsic in our nature. This includes autonomy over our lives, access to resources, and a say in the decisions that affect us.

 Lack of Appreciation

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For many of us, a wage isn’t enough – especially in this economy – so feeling undervalued and underappreciated in work may add to feelings of burnout.

Mismatched Values in the Workplace

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Misalignment or absent values in the workplace can take its toll. Many individuals grapple with the strain of personal values clashing with organizational culture, and this principle disparity only contributes to heightened stress and burnout levels.

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