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Survey highlights exactly why workers feel so burned out

Many workers feel that they are overworked, but still enjoy their jobs. Peter Macdiarmid/ Getty Images

Over half of employees say they are overworked, but 80 percent are still happy at their jobs, according to a new report.

Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of the office supply giant, conducted a survey of 2,602 employees from a variety of companies and industries in the United States and Canada.

The report found that breaks during work are becoming rarer, more people are eating lunch at their desks, many people work on the weekends, and that technology allows workers to be constantly connected – all of which are leading to “burn out.’’

“The biggest takeaway is that employees are working more than eight hours per day and they are getting burned out,’’ Dan Schawbel, founder of WorkplaceTrends.com, a research and advisory membership service for HR professionals, “but are content because they understand new realities of the workplace.’’

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Schawbel worked with Staples in conducting and analyzing the research.

“People have accepted answering emails on vacation or at 11 at night,’’ Schawbel said.

What are the issues?

Tom Heisroth, the senior vice president of Staples Advantage, said this is not a new topic in his industry.

“We are always in conversations with [the companies we work with] about their needs,’’ Heisroth said. “And frankly this comes up all the time and we are searching for those answers to help our customers.’’

The report highlights a few specific areas where employees appear to be struggling.

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• 23 percent of employees report they “usually’’ or “always’’ work after the standard workday is done.

• 48 percent of employees feel they cannot get up for a break.

• 35 percent of employees say they work after-hours to complete assignments they don’t have time to do during the day.

• 38 percent of employees acknowledge that burnout is a motivator for a new job search.

• 66 percent of employees report that burnout is negatively impacting productivity.

“I am not sure people understand how to deal with a new flexibility,’’ Heisroth said. “Now you have flexibility to work at home and technology enables you to stay connected all the time. But even though that’s there I am not sure the actual employee has come to terms with how to deal with that.’’

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How can the issues be fixed?

“Managers who have remote employees – they both said it is a better experience than having someone in an office with them,’’ Schawbel said. “People really embrace flexibility.’’

The problem may be the solution, it seems.

Schawbel hoped that in the future, it will be less about how many hours you work, but more about the quality of the work you do.

“It’s going to be less of where and when you do work and more about the results you achieve,’’ Schawbel said. “If you can be a top performer and only work two hours a day then you’re fine and if you’re not you need to catch up.’’

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He said that employers will realize allowing flexible schedules and telecommuters will help them attract the best talent.

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