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Government Employee Burnout Levels Remain High, According to New Research

Staff Shortages a Continued Challenge as 84 Percent of Burned Out Government Workers Say They’re Covering the Workload of Unfilled Positions.

ARLINGTON, Va.April 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — More than half (52 percent) of government employees say that they are burned out from their jobs, notably higher than their private sector counterparts (46 percent), according to new research from Eagle Hill Consulting. While this high level of workforce burnout is concerning, it has dipped from last year (56 percent). The burnout levels are higher among women (59 percent), younger workers (57 percent), and lower income (54 percent) government workers.

Government employees say the top culprits of burnout include workload (49 percent) and staffing shortages (43 percent). More than two-thirds of government workers (69 percent) say that increased flexibility of work hours and days would help reduce their burnout.

These findings are based upon the 2023 Eagle Hill Consulting Workforce Burnout Survey conducted by Ipsos from February 9-13, 2023. The survey included 1001 respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S. including 475 federal, state, and local government workers. Respondents were polled about burnout and vacation.

Read the “Understanding Government Employee Burnout” infographic.

“While it’s good news that that burnout among government workers has dipped ever so slightly, the burnout levels remain highly problematic,” said Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Demands on the government workforce are only growing, while public sector employers continue to face recruitment and retention challenges. Public employers have got to get to the root causes of worker burnout and implement solutions. Otherwise, it’s an endless cycle of government employees exhausted, stressed, and looking for another job. That’s just not sustainable for workers and delivery of essential public services.”

“Public employees indicate there are practical actions employers can take to reduce burnout, from more flexibility to better health and wellness benefits. The first step for government leaders is to initiate honest conversations with workers about burnout what will help solve the problem. Positive news from our research is that most government employees feel comfortable telling their employer about their burnout levels, so it’s time to start the dialogue,” Jezior said.

The survey’s key findings are as follows:

  • When asked how staff shortages are impacting their workload, 84 percent of government workers experiencing burnout said it’s covering the workload for unfilled positions, 47 percent said it’s helping others learn their job, 42 percent said it’s training new hires, and 21 percent said it’s recruiting and interviewing new hires.
  • Most employees (65 percent) who experience burnout feel comfortable telling their manager or employer they feel burned out.
  • The top causes of burnout include workload (48 percent), a lack of communication and support (43 percent), staff shortages (43 percent), juggling personal and professional lives (42 percent), and time pressures (31 percent).
  • When asked how to reduce burnout, 69 percent said increased flexibility would help, followed by a four-day work week (66 percent). Other solutions included decreased workloads (65 percent), working from home (60 percent), providing better health and wellness benefits (61 percent), reducing administrative burdens (58 percent), offering more on-site amenities (50 percent), and providing workers with the ability to relocate or work from multiple locations (44 percent).
  • The research also signals that worker departures are likely to continue, as one-third of the government workforce (33 percent) plans to leave their job in the next 12 months. The planned departure rates are even higher for younger workers (43 percent) and lower income workers (44 percent).

Eagle Hill Consulting LLC is a woman-owned business that provides unconventional management consulting services in the areas of Strategy & Performance, Talent, and Change. The company’s expertise in delivering innovative solutions to unique challenges spans across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. A leading authority on employee sentiment, Eagle Hill is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, with employees across the U.S. and offices in Boston and Seattle. More information is available at

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