BY THE NUMBERS
Levels of Burnout Soar Among Younger Leaders
Younger Leaders Are Most at Risk of Burnout
Seventy percent of leaders under age 35 report feeling used up at the end of every day, with rates even higher among women and minorities.
One unsurprising explanation is that younger generations are more likely to have caretaking responsibilities, especially of young children. This also contributes to the higher burnout rates of women in every age group.
However, there may be unique pressure for leaders 35 and under to feel they have to achieve perfection. Compared to their older peers, our data showed that these younger leaders are more fearful of revealing personal flaws, sharing something that could be used against them, and being perceived as weak or incompetent.
These fears can cause leaders to push themselves too hard, leading to burnout. In fact, leaders who expressed these professional anxieties were 1.5X more likely to feel burnout. Minority leaders and women are even more susceptible to this pressure.
Our research also showed that managers of these younger leaders can practice several key behaviors to help address these challenges:
- Listen and respond with empathy.
- Genuinely acknowledge failures and shortcomings.
- Demonstrate a willingness to be vulnerable.
- Inquire about wellbeing.
This time investment makes a difference. When managers use these interpersonal behaviors effectively, their direct reports are 1.3X more likely to accept their personal failures, and 1.8X more likely to demonstrate vulnerability. In contrast, when managers do not do these things, their direct reports are 1.8X more likely to report feeling used up at the end of the workday.
When leaders under 35 had managers show these key behaviors, they were 6X more likely to trust senior leaders in their companies to do the right thing.
These behaviors also influence perceptions of their organizations holistically. When leaders under 35 had managers show these key behaviors, they were 6X more likely to trust senior leaders in their companies to do the right thing. In fact, the more trust leaders have in senior leadership, the less likely they were to experience burnout.