83% of Employees Say Four-Day Work Week Would Relieve Burnout

83% of Employees Say Four-Day Work Week Would Relieve Burnout

Workload is a leading cause of burnout, workers report
woman shutting down work computer

It's no secret that the pandemic has been difficult on workers. But as vaccines become more widely available and some parts of life transition back to pre-COVID-19 normal, workers are reporting rising levels of fatigue.

In a recent survey from management consulting firm Eagle Hill Consulting LLC and market research firm Ipsos, 53% of workers report feeling burnout. This number is up from April 2020, when 45% said they were experiencing burnout. Survey participants also named specific causes and potential solutions for their fatigue and stress.

Workload is main cause of burnout

When asked what the main cause of burnout was, 52% of the survey's respondents said it was workload. This is not the first Eagle Hill Consulting poll to identify workload as the main cause of burnout — it was also cited in polls of federal employees and those with children in remote-learning programs; other surveys have yielded similar results.

Employees named "unmanageable workload" as the second-highest factor correlated with burnout in a 2020 report from Gallup. Meanwhile, in a 2021 survey conducted by workforce analytics company Visier, over half of employees said the main cause of burnout was being asked to increase their workload.

Employees identify top cures for burnout

While some studies point to a growing preference for remote work, this survey identified other motivators that could be more meaningful in retaining employees concerned about burning out. Here's what respondents said would be most helpful in alleviating it:

  • 84% Increased flexibility
  • 83% Four-day work week
  • 82% Decreased workload
  • 78% Better health and wellness
  • 76% Reduced administrative burdens
  • 73% More on-site amenities
  • 67% Working from home
  • 58% The ability to relocate or work from multiple locations

In particular, a shorter work week was cited as being popular with women and younger respondents.

Younger workers looking for change

The majority of respondents (66%) said they value their employers more since the start of the pandemic. However, according to the survey, that may not enough to keep them from leaving:

  • 34% are considering a change of employer (with over a third planning to switch employers within the next 12 months)
  • 31% of workers are considering a career change
  • 21% percent are thinking of changing where they live

Indeed, one recent report indicated that switching jobs could be the right move in terms of pay, since it’s more likely to result in income growth than holding the same position.

Considering a complete overhaul of work and life is especially on the mind of younger respondents (ages 18 to 34), with 65% saying they’re reassessing their career (and personal) paths, in part due to the pandemic. (In contrast, just 51% of respondents overall said they were doing the same.) Burnout was felt by 62% of this demographic cohort, while 4 in 10 (41%) expressed plans to leave their current employer within the next 12 months.

Older employees have different plans, though: Only 20% of respondents aged 55 and older expressed that they were looking to leave their job soon, as a far lower percentage of older workers reported feeling burnout.

But that doesn't mean older employees are immune to fallout from the pandemic. Another study, which focused on how the pandemic has impacted workers 45 and older, showed about 25% delaying or giving up on retirement — and that number rose to 30% for workers over 65.

Methodology: The 2021 Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Workforce Burnout Survey was conducted by Ipsos from Aug. 11 to Aug. 16, 2021. The survey’s 1,010 respondents came from a random sample of employees from across the U.S.