LHH Knightsbridge Data Reveals Looming Worker Wellness Crisis

Study Shows Leaders are Failing to Spot the Signs of Burnout

LHH, released new data that reveals a looming worker wellness crisis in Canada and globally. Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, workers are burned out and leaders are failing to recognize the signs and address the issue.

The study from LHH and The Adecco Group, Resetting Normal: Defining a New Era of Work, was conducted among 14,800 workers across 25 countries and shows that 38 per cent of workers globally have been suffering from burnout over the last 12 months, with 32 per cent saying their wellness has declined as a result. The toll is the heaviest on younger workers, with 45 per cent of Generation Z and 42 per cent of Millennials reporting burnout.

At the same time, working long hours is on the rise. Globally, 63 per cent say they have had to work 40 hours or more per week during the pandemic, and 43 per cent believe they will have to keep working more than 40 hours per week going forward. In fact, many workers report being more productive since companies implemented work-from-home policies in response to the pandemic, with 40 per cent saying they have been more productive working from home than they were in an office, and 42 per cent saying they are just as productive at home as they were in an office.

In Canada, 45 per cent of respondents indicated their work-life balance had improved. However, 34 per cent of Canadians said their workload had gotten worse over the past twelve months, compared with 15 per cent who said that it had improved. At the same time, 45 per cent of Canadian respondents said their mental wellbeing had suffered in the past twelve months, and 37 per cent said their physical wellbeing had suffered too.

Jim Mitchell, President of LHH Canada said, 

“It is important to remember that the concepts of work-life balance, workload and wellbeing of employees are distinct aspects of employees’ experience and need to be addressed through respective employee initiatives. If the significant disconnect between employee needs is not bridged through robust talent strategies, the implications will be felt all across Canada’s labour force, mirroring what we see in neighbouring geographies.”

The good news is that 46 per cent of Canadian respondents said they are happier in their job following the changes to working life in the past year. However, the importance of a well-managed return-to-work or hybrid working arrangement was underscored, with 51 per cent of Canadian respondents experiencing anxiety about returning to office.

“It is no longer a question of mandating top-down measures, but in demonstrating that we truly value employee feedback. That starts with empathy and transformational leadership skills that will be crucial to navigating the next normal and in retaining employees while ensuring their satisfaction,” says Mitchell.

Beyond the wellness crisis itself, a key concern revealed by the study is that leaders are failing to address and even recognize the issue of employee wellness. More than half (53 per cent) of managers say they have found it difficult to identify staff who are struggling with mental wellbeing and 51 per cent say they have trouble identifying the warning signs of employee burnout. Meanwhile, 67 per cent of non-managers say leaders don’t meet their expectations for checking on their wellness. In Canada, 20 per cent of managers found it difficult to identify when staff were struggling with wellbeing and 20 per cent had difficulties identifying when staff were overworked or burned out.

Looking ahead, 70 per cent of study respondents across all groups made it clear that having support in the workplace for mental wellbeing will be of extreme importance going into the future.

Mitchell says organizations should be focused on culture and renew training for managers to identify and address employee wellness issues. As well, he notes,

“the kinds of leadership skills that suited the world before the pandemic are still required, but organizations also need strong transformational leaders.” Transformational leaders inspire and motivate staff, provide individualized consideration, demonstrate ethical behaviour, and challenge assumptions. “These leaders take risks but involve team members through input and ideation—and that can begin now with how we address wellbeing,” says Mitchell

COnnect with LHH Knightsbridge