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Experiencing Work Burnout? You’re Not Alone — and Unsustainable Work Expectations Don’t Help: Study

Young woman at work

If you’ve been dreaming about quitting your job to find yourself, avoid workplace burnout or search for greater career advancement potential, you aren’t alone — with good reason. 

A recently released survey from consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which polled nearly 600 respondents who voluntarily left without a plan B, provides employees (and their respective companies) with analysis on how to go about solving the issue at hand — displeased workers are leaving companies faster than they’re being replaced.

Related: Is the ‘do what you love’ mindset fuelling the Great Resignation?

What is the Great Resignation?

Why is this such an issue in 2022? With plenty of free time on our hands — and the enduring need to remain at home working in our PJs — an increasing number of employees have left their jobs in search of a new one, or sometimes, a new path. 

Thus, beginning what many are now referring to as, The Great Resignation.  

The term, coined in 2021 by Anthony Klotz (an organizational professor at Texas A&M University), describes the wave of people quitting their jobs during the time of COVID-19. 

The survey titled “Gone for now, or gone for good? How to play the new talent game and win back workers,” released on Mar. 9, shows some of the reasons why people are quitting their jobs right now — and tactics employers can take with them when searching for new (or returning) employees.

Related: Thinking of quitting your job? See this financial checklist first.

What factors are driving people to quit their jobs in 2022?

Although the Great Resignation is believed to have begun thanks to workers having more financial freedoms to choose between jobs — as a result of increased wage subsidies — the survey suggests some key reasons workers are quitting their jobs at an alarming rate. 

Nearly 35 per cent of respondents agreed that unsustainable work performance expectations were the leading cause of their resignation, leaving their jobs without so much as a backup plan. Additionally, a lack of caring leaders or career development and advancement potential added to their list of reasoning. 


Some of the lower priority — though still important — reasons for leaving listed in the survey include: lack of meaningful work, minimal to no support for employee health and well-being, inadequate compensation and lack of workplace flexibility, amongst many more.  

Factors like poor mental health, burnout and stress are also all major reasons employees are leaving their jobs, with family-care demands, volumes of work increasing and the number of employees decreasing also contributing to resignations. 

In the matter of returning to the world of work, of those who left their jobs, 47 per cent returned to the workforce — a quarter of those taking up new, nontraditional work; 44 per cent said they have minimal interest in returning to traditional work for at least the next six months. 

Related: Can you afford to quit your job? Here’s what you need to know.

How companies can get their employees back

So what can employers do to attract employees? The McKinsey & Company article offers some suggestions.

While there are many solutions to this problem, the survey encourages companies to steer away from short-term Band-Aid solutions — offering workers daily pay instead of weekly or bi-weekly to appeal to those in need of quick money — and consider long-term compensation. 

Notably, a key reason why many employees may have returned to their original workplace or field of work was due to policies that target workplace flexibility, focusing on not only flexible hours but also a flexible space, time, empathy and understanding for employees. 

The study encourages employers to not only compensate and review benefits but to create a “sticky” workplace, somewhere employees will want to stay.


Some of the many ideas featured in this report include conducting “stay” interviews as opposed to exit interviews, providing wellness days and implementing time-management practices to lessen burnout — such as “no meeting” days or slowing down the pace between Zoom meetings. 

So what’s the answer to the question of “gone for now, or gone for good?” Employers must consider how they will move forward with caring for their employees, the nicest bird gets the worm. 

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