Feeling burned out? Your boss is probably more likely to quit than you are

Polling by Deloitte and Workplace Intelligence finds that bosses are prepared to jump ship to preserve their mental wellbeing.
Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor
male desk worker looking at his computer screen with a stressed and tired expression
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Work-life conflicts are fracturing the workforce, and even bosses aren't immune. According to research by consultant Deloitte, nearly 70% of company executives are seriously thinking of quitting their jobs for a role that better supports their wellbeing.

A survey of 2,100 employees and C-level executives conducted by Deloitte and Workplace Intelligence found that both employees and business leaders have struggled to prioritize their wellbeing in the two years since the pandemic turned the world on its head.

Three-quarters (76%) of C-level executives surveyed said the pandemic had negatively affected their wellbeing, while one in three workers and executives said they always or often feel exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed, lonely, or depressed.

Work appears to be a major blocker in employees of all levels achieving greater wellbeing. The survey found that 63% of employees and 73% of executive-level leaders feel their job doesn't allow them to take time off from work and to disconnect.

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Results also show that, for 68% of employees and 81% of the C-suite, improving their wellbeing is more important than advancing their career right now – so much so that 57% of employees and nearly 69% of the C-suite are seriously considering resigning.

Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence, suggested the findings were a wake-up call for organizations to address how day-to-day work was impacting employee wellbeing.

"The Great Resignation has shown us that employees are no longer willing to tolerate a job that leaves them constantly burned out and exhausted, and our study with Deloitte highlights that executives are also fed up with the current state of affairs," said Schawbel.

Worryingly, and despite their struggles with their own wellbeing, business leaders might be overestimating how well their employees are faring. The report found that 89% of executives believe their workers are thriving, and yet only 65% of employees rate their physical health as 'excellent' or 'good'. It also noted that executives were in a better financial position to seek out new opportunities at their own pace – which may explain why they are more motivated to resign.

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It's clear that wellbeing is a top-down concern. But while 95% of C-level respondents agreed that they should be responsible for employees' wellbeing, 68% admitted they were not doing enough in this regard. Paul Silverglate, US Executive Accelerators leader and Deloitte's US Technology Sector vice chair, said both employees and leaders were struggling to find the organizational support they need to address things like work-life balance and workloads.

The C-suite must take greater ownership and action around matters of health, Silverglate said. This starts with the basics: only around half of employees and two-thirds of C-suite execs polled said they used all their vacation time, took breaks during the day, got enough sleep, and found time for friends and family.

Small improvements in all of these areas can have a cumulative impact on improving wellbeing, engagement and productivity in the workplace, the report said, which could determine the long-term success of the organization and encourage employees to stay.

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