Government Employee Burnout Levels Remain High But Research Shows Decline

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 15, 2022  – More than half (56 percent) of government employees say that they are burned out from their jobs, notably higher than their private sector counterparts (47 percent), according to new research from Eagle Hill Consulting. While this high level of workforce burnout is concerning, it has dropped from earlier this year (65 percent). The burnout levels are higher among women (60 percent), Millennials (60 percent), and lower income (59 percent) government workers.

When it comes to the cause of burnout, government workers say it’s their workload (49 percent); a lack of communication, feedback and support (43 percent); staffing shortages (42 percent); juggling personal and professional lives (40 percent); and time pressures (34 percent). More than two-thirds of government workers (67 percent) say that a four-day work week and increased flexibility would alleviate their stress.

These findings are contained in a workforce survey from Eagle Hill Consulting conducted by Ipsos from August 11 -16, 2022. The 2022 Eagle Hill Consulting Workforce Burnout Survey included 1003 respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S., including 739 federal, state, and local government workers. Respondents were polled about burnout and vacation.

“It’s encouraging that burnout among government workers is falling, but the high burnout levels still are quite concerning” said Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Given the immense demand for government services, it is prudent for public sector employers to constantly assess the state of their workforce. Public employers need workers who can deliver on the agency mission, and they need employees who will stay on the job. When government employees are exhausted and stressed, or feel like they can’t perform at their best they may start looking elsewhere for employment.”

“Public employees point to practical steps employers can take to reduce burnout – from increased scheduling flexibility to better health and wellness benefits. Government leaders are wise to fully understand exactly what is driving burnout at their agency and to have honest conversations with workers about what will help address the problem. Good news from our research is that most government employees feel comfortable telling their employer about their burnout levels, so initiating those conversations is a great place to start,” Jezior said.

The survey’s key findings are as follows:

  • When asked how staff shortages are impacting their workload, 82 percent of workers said it’s covering the workload for unfilled positions, 45 percent said it’s helping others learn their job, 35 percent said it’s training new hires, and 23 percent said it’s recruiting and interviewing new hires.
  • Most employees (63 percent) who experience burnout feel comfortable telling their manager or employer they feel burned out.
  • The top causes of burnout include workload (49 percent), a lack of communication and support (43 percent), staff shortages (42 percent), juggling personal and professional lives (40 percent), and time pressures (34 percent).
  • When asked how to reduce burnout, 67 percent said a four-day work week and increased flexibility would help. Other solutions included decreasing workloads (63 percent), working from home (63 percent), providing better health and wellness benefits (57 percent), reducing administrative burdens (52 percent), offering more on-site amenities (52 percent), and providing workers with the ability to relocate or work from multiple locations (42 percent).
  • The research also signals that the Great Resignation is likely to linger, as more than one-third of the government workforce (39 percent) plans to leave their job in the next 12 months. The planned departure rates are even higher for Millennials (46 percent) and lower income workers (47 percent).