While most human resources professionals admit that employee burnout is sabotaging their organization’s efforts at workforce retention, they also see no obvious solution to this problem on the horizon, according to the results of an employee engagement survey conducted by software provider Kronos Incorporated and executive development firm Future Workplace.

The national survey of 614 HR professionals at companies of varying sizes was conducted on November 14-19, 2016. The survey asked respondents about their views on workplace innovation and technology used in human resources. Although 87% said they see improved retention as a high or a critical priority, 20% indicated that because of competing priorities, they will be unable to focus on addressing this issue in 2017.

Most significantly, nearly all (95%) of the HR professionals surveyed admitted that the tendency for organizations to “burn and churn” talent makes it tough to build an engaged workforce, with 46% saying that employee burnout is responsible for up to half (between 20% to 50%) of their annual workforce turnover, and nearly 10% blaming employee burnout for causing more than half of their workforce turnover each year.

The results also showed that although burnout affects companies of all sizes, larger organizations seem to suffer more: one in five respondents at organizations with 100 to 500 employees cited burnout as the cause of 10% or less of annual turnover, while 15% of respondents at organizations with more than 2,500 employees said that burnout is the cause of 50% or more of annual turnover.

When the HR professionals were asked to identify the factors that contribute most to burnout, their top responses were unfair compensation (41%), unreasonable workload (32%), and too much overtime or after-hours work (32%). However, respondents also cited factors that fall under the heading of talent management, employee development, and leadership, including poor management (30%), employees seeing no clear connection of their role to corporate strategy (29%), and a negative workplace culture (26%).

Researchers pointed out that even though the costs of employee turnover have been well documented, the survey suggested that employers invest more in recruiting new employees than in retaining existing talent: the results showed that 97% of the HR leaders are planning to increase their investment in recruiting technology by 2020, including 22% who anticipate a 30% to 50% increase in such spending.

Meanwhile, the HR professionals frequently complained of insufficient funding when asked about programs that would benefit retention of existing talent: 16% said a lack of budget is the primary obstacle to improving employee retention in the next 12 months, and 15% reported that a lack of funding is the biggest challenge to improving employee engagement.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 60, Issue 4

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