Employee burnout is a real and prevalent issue in today's economy. Roughly 20% of employees report high levels of engagement and job burnout, revealing that, although they are or were interested in their job, they can't withstand the stress or pressure it entails.

And, while they generally showcase high levels of talent and skill, many are leaving their jobs in search of something less exhausting. 

This phenomenon leaves remaining workers with a larger workload and sticks employers with the task of finding new hires, which seem to be in short supply for lower-level jobs. 

This skill gap causes problems within numerous occupations as young people choose college over trade school and salaries over hourly wages.

Moreover, the next generation is searching for a healthy work-life balance in their jobs. If the following occupations can offer that, they may attract and retain more workers, creating a less stressful work environment for everyone involved. 

Skilled Laborers

Last year, 79% of construction firms planned to expand their payrolls, yet nearly all of them worried about finding and hiring qualified workers. This concern comes from the lack of skilled laborers within the industry, even as demand continues growing.

One of the most significant underlying issues of this shortage is employee burnout. Jobs in construction and other skilled trade occupations can be incredibly demanding, both physically and mentally. This factor has led many to retire at an earlier age, with the average age being 61.

Moreover, fewer trade employees keep working after 65 than do those in other professions. And as this shortage of laborers continues, tradespeople are likely to experience even more job stress as demand increases.

School systems could solve this issue by educating high schoolers on the importance of skilled trade positions. Many parents and schools push kids toward a four-year college degree, so they may not know about the benefits of working a trade — nor do they realize the demand for workers. Students need to know they can still use skills in technology, smart devices and automation in a trade job — plus, they can earn a great living in such vocations. 

Hourly Shift Workers 

Fast-food workers, waitresses and other hourly shift employees are vulnerable to job burnout because they undergo prolonged periods of stress every time they work. For many, the work-life balance is non-existent. 

Compared to corporate professionals, they have little control over their schedules and minimal influence over their time. Shift managers experience pressure from higher-ups to increase profit while minimizing the number of employees on shift. And if they don't perform, they face repercussions. 

This pressure has forced many to quit their hourly jobs in search of ones offering a better work-life balance. Today, the demand for these workers has increased so much that the number of job openings has exceeded the number of people looking for wage work. In response, companies will have to create more pleasant environments to attract employees. For example, providing opportunities for upskilling, raises and better scheduling can help draw in and retain employees. 

Healthcare Professionals 

Nurses and health care professionals are also susceptible to overworking and burnout as job openings increase at an accelerated rate. Researchers expect employment for registered nurses to grow by nearly 12% in the next eight years — much faster than all other occupational averages. Yet, because some nurses are leaving their jobs due to exhaustion, employers are struggling to find qualified employees to fill openings. 

This factor, in turn, makes work very stressful for healthcare employers. In 2017, roughly 56% of employers said they had open positions they couldn't fill, and companies posted job listings for RNs an average of 10 times. This situation leaves both nurses and healthcare employers on the floor with larger workloads and longer hours. 

Although their jobs are stressful, 76% of nurses say they're satisfied with their positions overall, with 30% going back to school or earning certifications to make themselves more marketable.

Even if there aren't as many people looking for nursing careers, there's a decent retention rate, although stress levels are high. However, this may not always be the case. Management should consider raising salaries and improving their employees' work-life balance to ensure nurses and employers stay on.


The technology industry has experienced a shortage of individuals for cybersecurity positions for the past eight years. Unfortunately, the situation is not improving, even as the Internet of Things expands, and the world adopts more innovative technologies.

This situation is especially concerning for those who work in cybersecurity, with 74% reporting the shortage has impacted their organization directly. Additionally, 66% say this has led to an increased workload, resulting in burnout. 

Organizations might fix this problem by implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning instead of hiring more people. Then, employees could investigate alerts and potential threats instead of discovering them themselves. Companies could also try maximizing their outreach strategies and visiting universities to attract young talent. 

In addition to being understaffed, cybersecurity organizations are also under skilled. As companies continue to include technology in their business processes, cybersecurity skills are in demand now more than ever. Yet many organizations lack staff who have advanced skill sets and can work with cloud security, threat intelligence, forensics and other technologies.

One way to solve this problem is to train new and existing hires. Businesses may even focus on hiring unskilled workers and training them from the ground up. 

Closing the Skills Gap 

Of course, while these solutions may sound polished and ideal in each situation, each has its own set of complications. For instance, finding ways to inspire uneducated individuals to pursue cybersecurity can be challenging. As companies seek to close the skills gap, they'll have to develop new ways to attract and retain employees. 

And this won't happen overnight. But any step in the right direction is a good one. With new strategies and a little luck, companies may see a decrease in burnout and a smaller skills gap in the coming years.

Kayla Matthews, Editor, Productivity Theory

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