FlexJobs and Mental Health America Survey Finds Three-Quarters of Workers Have Experienced Burnout

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37% report working longer hours since the pandemic started; only 1 in 5 say HR offered productive solutions to burnout issues

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"Offering flexible scheduling to employees can have a dramatic impact on reducing burnout, since rigid work schedules usually magnify conflict between work and family, leading workers to mental exhaustion,” said Carol Cochran, VP of People & Culture at FlexJobs.

According to a survey of more than 1,500 respondents, seventy-five percent of people have experienced burnout at work, with 40 percent saying they’ve experienced burnout during the pandemic specifically. This is not surprising, given that 37 percent of employed respondents are currently working longer hours than usual since the pandemic started.

However, just 21 percent said they were able to have open, productive conversations with HR about solutions to their burnout. Fifty-six percent went so far as to say that their HR departments did not encourage conversations about burnout. This survey was conducted by FlexJobs, fielded in partnership with Mental Health America (MHA) in late July 2020.

“One of the most important things remote workers can do is to set clear boundaries between their work time and non-work time, and HR needs to take an active role in helping workers practice healthy boundaries between their professional and personal lives,” said Carol Cochran, VP of People & Culture at FlexJobs. “Offering flexible scheduling to employees can have a dramatic impact on reducing burnout, since rigid work schedules usually magnify conflict between work and family, leading workers to mental exhaustion. Most importantly, leaders should strive to create a healthy company culture that values the individual as a person, and prioritizes the overall wellness of its workers,” Cochran recommended.

Decline of Mental Health Since the Pandemic:

  • Employed workers are more than 3x as likely to report poor mental health now vs before the pandemic. Before the pandemic, 5% of currently employed workers said their mental health was poor or very poor. That number has now jumped to 18%.
  • Before the pandemic, 7% of currently unemployed workers said their mental health was poor or very poor. That number has now jumped to 27%.
  • 42% of those employed and 47% of those unemployed say their stress levels are currently high or very high.
  • Top stressors include COVID-19, personal finances, current events, concern over their family’s health, the economy, and job responsibilities.

Relationship Between Work and Mental Health:

  • More than three-quarters (76%) agreed that workplace stress affects their mental health (i.e., depression or anxiety), and 17% strongly agreed.
  • Only about half (51%) of workers agreed that they had the emotional support they need at work to help manage their stress.

Having flexibility in their workday (56%) was overwhelmingly listed as the top way their workplace could better support them. Encouraging time off and offering mental health days were tied for 2nd and 3rd at 43%. Increased PTO and better health insurance were the next top ways to offer support (28%).

“Company leadership, including executives, HR, and management, have a responsibility to their employees to model and talk openly about behaviors that reduce stress, prevent burnout, and help employees establish the appropriate boundaries when working remotely,” said Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO at MHA. “Offering flexibility during the workday, encouraging employees to use their PTO when they need a vacation, and providing time off for employees to tend to their mental health can help employees at all levels of a company cope with COVID-19 and other stressors.”

Survey respondents said they would also be open to attending virtual mental health solutions if they were offered through their workplace, such as:

  • Meditation sessions (45%)
  • Healthy eating classes (38%)
  • Virtual workout classes (37%)
  • Desktop yoga (32%)

Webinars about mental health topics (31%)

Seventy-six percent of respondents were currently working remotely. To help remote workers avoid burnout, FlexJobs has compiled 5 key tips for them to consider:

Tips on Avoiding Burnout as a Remote Worker:

1. Develop boundaries. One of the difficult things about being a remote worker is that you're never really "away" from your work physically, and you need to develop actual barriers between your work and personal life. One boundary is to have a dedicated work space that you can join and leave. Or, put your laptop in a drawer or closet when you're done with work. Start and end your work day with some kind of ritual that signals to your brain it's time to change from work to personal or vice versa.

2. Turn off email and work notifications after work hours. Turning off email when you're not "at work" is important -- you shouldn't be available all the time. Let your teammates and manager know when they can expect you. Let people know your general schedule and when you're "off the clock" so they aren't left wondering.

3. Encourage more personal activities by scheduling them. Most people struggle with the "work" part of work-life balance. Schedule personal activities and have several go-to hobbies that you enjoy so you'll have something specific to do with your personal time. If you don't have anything planned, like a hike after work or a puzzle project, you may find it easier to slip back to work unnecessarily.

4. Ask your boss for flexible scheduling so you can better control your days and balance both your personal and professional responsibilities.

5. Focus on work during your work time, rather than letting "life" things creep into your work hours too much. If you're productive and efficient throughout the day, then at the end of the day it will be easier to walk away feeling accomplished and not be tempted to work into the night to finish what should have been completed during the day.

6. Take a mental health screen. If your stress feels unmanageable or you have other mental health concerns, take a free, confidential, and anonymous mental health screen at https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools. Online screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.


Demographic breakdown of the 1,500 respondents. Ages: 20-29 (14%), 30-59 (48%), 60+ (38%); Employed (53%+), Unemployed (47%); Household income: Less than less $50,000 (40%), $50,000 to less than $100,000 (33%), $100,000 to less than $150,000 (17%), $150,000+ (10%).

For the full report of the survey, please visit https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/flexjobs-mha-mental-health-workplace-pandemic/ or contact Kathy Gardner at kgardner@flexjobs.com for more information.

About FlexJobs

FlexJobs is a premium online job service for professionals seeking flexible work, specializing in full-time and part-time remote jobs, employee and freelance jobs, and on-site jobs with flexible, part-time, and alternative schedules. Since its start in 2007, FlexJobs has helped more than 4 million people in their job searches and has created the largest vetted database of legitimate flexible job opportunities in over 50 career categories. In addition, FlexJobs provides robust career support, including curated expert resources and career coaching services, to partner with job seekers in all phases of their journey. A trusted source in the media, FlexJobs has been cited in top national outlets such as CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNBC, Forbes, and many others. FlexJobs' Founder & CEO Sara Sutton has also launched two additional partner sites, Remote.co and 1 Million for Work Flexibility, to help provide education and awareness about the viability and benefits of flexible work. Sutton is the creator of The TRaD* Works Forum (*Telecommuting, Remote, & Distributed), dedicated to helping companies leverage the benefits of telecommuting, remote and distributed teams.

About Mental Health America

Founded in 1909 by Clifford W. Beers, Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal. During his stays in public and private institutions, Beers witnessed and was subjected to horrible abuse. From these experiences, Beers set into motion a reform movement that took shape and is known today as Mental Health America.

MHA’s programs and initiatives fulfill its mission of promoting mental health and preventing mental illness through advocacy, education, research, and services. MHA’s national office and its 200+ affiliates and associates around the country work every day to protect the rights and dignity of individuals with lived experience and ensure that peers and their voices are integrated into all areas of the organization.

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Kathy Gardner
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