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Burnout rates substantially higher for government workforce as compared to private sector, according to Eagle Hill Consulting research

Eagle Hill Consulting research shows higher burnout rates in government sectors than to private sectors.

Sixty-five percent of government employees say they are burned out — a significantly higher number than their private sector counterparts (44 percent), according to new research from Eagle Hill Consulting. Government workers also indicate they are more likely to leave their organization in the next 12 months (49 percent), indicating a higher burnout rate as compared to private sector workers (30 percent).

This research comes as the United States continues to face an acute worker shortage, and the number of Americans quitting their jobs continues to rise. 

The results signal that the ongoing “Great Resignation” is having a sharp impact on workers who remain in their jobs, especially in the public sector. Seventy-five percent of government workers say that staffing shortages are contributing to employee burnout as compared to 60 percent of private sector employees. 

These findings are from an Eagle Hill Consulting workforce survey conducted by Ipsos April 5-7, 2022. The 2022 Eagle Hill Consulting Workforce Burnout Survey included 1,003 respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S. on burnout and retention. The survey includes an augment to collect additional interviews from those working in government (local, state or federal government). This augment includes 500 interviews in addition to 239 respondents from the standard survey who work for the government.

It’s not surprising that our government workers are experiencing higher levels of burnout. The pressure on the government workforce has been overwhelming for the past two years. And just as the pandemic pressures have begun to subside, the Great Resignation now is a driving factor in employee burnout.

While this employee sentiment among government workers is alarming, there are practical steps leaders can take to address both burnout and attrition. Many governments workers are mission-driven and committed to public service. Addressing their specific drivers of burnout can help keep them on the job, as will ensuring that they feel appreciated and valued for their public service.

The first step is to engage in a dialogue with employees to understand their pain points and collaborate on solutions. For some government workers, their workload is the problem. For others, it could be concerns about flexible hours or remote work. Still others may be seeking better communication and clarity about their performance expectations.

Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting
Additional research findings are as follows:
  • Regarding the causes of burnout, government employees say that their workload is a problem (43 percent), followed by juggling work and personal life (35 percent); a lack of communication, feedback and support (34 percent); time pressures (29 percent); and performance expectations (26 percent).
  • When asked how to reduce burnout, 71 percent of government workers said a four-day work week would help. Other solutions included increased flexibility (70 percent), decreased workload (65 percent), better health and wellness offerings (62 percent), reduced administrative burdens (57 percent), more on-site amenities (58 percent), working from home (56 percent), and the ability to relocate or work from multiple locations (47 percent). 
  • The pandemic triggered government workers to consider changing their personal priorities (56 percent), career (45 percent), employer (44 percent), and where they live (38 percent).  

Eagle Hill Consulting offers “unconventional consulting” services to federal, state and local government agencies as well as to other industries.