23 May 2023

Why Leadership, Culture, and EX transformation should focus on mitigating burn-out, not driving discretionary effort.

People who feel better cared for by their employer, invest more in their work

Mercer have just launched a new report showing that 47% of all employees (16 global markets) report feeling stressed in their everyday life. The report concludes that employers that offer a wider array of benefits see higher employee satisfaction and calls out the damaging effects of low psychological safety, poor leadership, and toxic culture.

We welcome this as further proof of what we’ve asserted for some time. People who feel better cared for by their employer, invest more in their work which has positive outcomes for the individual, the business, and society at large. As we say at McCann Synergy: an organisation designed around its people is a force for good.

Record numbers of employees are on long-term sickness or disability

Yet despite this increased awareness, things are getting worse. Here in the UK record numbers of employees are on long-term sickness or disability, up by 438,000 more than it was before the start of the pandemic. A recent Future Forum survey found that 42% of workers globally said they feel burned, compared with 38% who said the same in May 2021. Younger workers are significantly more likely to report burnout than older workers, and women over-index compared to men.

Why are younger people, and women in particular, feeling more stressed than during COVID-19?

We focus on three factors:

  • Burgeoning economic depression shaking job security for those in less senior positions
  • Cost of living crisis placing greater pressure on those less economically secure
  • Erosion of flexible working, and the seemingly inevitable return to the physical workplace

All three factors can be mitigated by employee engagement practices such as leadership, culture, and employee experience transformation.

But it’s important to recognise that there are intersections of marginalisation at play. The Future Forum survey reports that, in the United States, women, working mothers, and people of colour report the strongest desire for workplace schedule flexibility, for example.

We have an ethical imperative and a business imperative to adopt an All People First perspective on employee engagement. The WHO estimates that $1 Trillion has been lost due to lost productivity due to anxiety and depression. Yet the solution to this burn-out crisis is in our hands.

This is why employee engagement programmes must design for inclusion from the ground up. At McCann Synergy we have leadership coaches, culture experts, and employee experience specialists who are committed to doing just that, and thereby help your organisation successfully navigate change. Get in touch to find out more.



Joe Hoppard, Head of Strategy


Our people unleashing the power of your people

Joe is driven by a fundamental belief that business is better for everyone when people are happy, healthy, and engaged. With a focus on effectiveness, Joe’s short-term goal is to help improve measurement across all client work to better demonstrate return on investment, whilst inspiring teams towards

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