According to new data from people success platform Glint, despite the odds, employees were happier at work at the end of 2020 than they were at the end of 2019, but feelings of burnout remain worryingly high.


Looking at aggregated data from 9 million employee-engagement survey responses from companies around the world, Glint’s latest analysis shows that employee happiness at work rose 5.4% in December 2020, compared to December 2019. Employee happiness in the retail industry saw the biggest increase last year, jumping 11% from January to December 2020, followed by financial services (9.61%) and the tech sector (6.76%).


With many companies increasing support for employees over the past year through health and well-being initiatives, the rise in happiness at work may reflect employees’ sense of gratitude and relief for having job security in these turbulent times.


The data also highlights a worrying increase in employees experiencing challenges with their mental health, with burnout risk trending upwards year-over-year, spiking in late March 2020 and climbing by nearly 4% between August and December 2020. Burnout levels across different industries reached record highs, particularly in manufacturing (86% increase last year) and more than twice that of business services which saw the second-highest increase in burnout over the same time period. The notable exception was the retail industry.


There is certainly a gender difference here, with a survey of LinkedIn members showing that women reported experiencing overwhelming workloads 20% more frequently than men. In smaller organisations, the gender divide was more marked with women expressing concern about these pressures 28% more frequently than men. Women in management positions and above are 41% more likely to be reporting these issues over male colleagues.


Employees’ sense of connection at work also declined significantly in recent months, with some 41% of employees saying remote working has made them feel less connected to their colleagues. The data reveals employees are under increased workloads, with 38% feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work they need to process, and 35% experiencing conflict between home and work demands.


Steven Buck, head of People Science, EMEA, Glint, said: “Faced with profound changes to their day-to-day lives, including severe restrictions on social contact, enforced working from home, homeschooling, worries about health and future uncertainty, feelings of burnout and mental exhaustion continue to climb. It’s quite an overwhelming situation for managers—they need to pay careful attention to their own and their team’s emotions and well-being. Importantly, doing simple things like jumping on a short video call to discuss top-of-mind issues can help avoid work and personal issues spiralling. At the same time, managers need to make sure those conversations are personal and attentive, and not immediately about the next item on an ever-growing to-do list.”


Survey Methodology


The insights in this edition of the latest Glint Employee Well-Being Report were sourced from a blend of Glint People Success Platform data and Glint-designed surveys of LinkedIn members. Happiness insights spanning 2019 and 2020 came from a sample of more than 9 million Glint survey responses. More than 600,000 survey comments and surveys of 2,000 LinkedIn members were analysed to produce burnout insights spanning 2019 and 2020. These inputs have been delivered by companies in retail, financial services, business services, technology, manufacturing, and healthcare, and cover areas ranging from support, well-being, resources, prioritisation, connection, productivity, communication, technology, and more. Survey comments referencing burnout risk factors (stress, workload, anxiety) are identified by Glint’s Narrative Intelligence text analytics engine, and the number of these comments at a company as a percentage of all of its comments is calculated. The metric’s range is 0% to 100%.