Threats to Employee Well-being Intensify as Pandemic Wears On

Those Under 30, Managers, Hospitality, Finance and Health Care Workers Continue to Face Significant Increases in Burnout Risk

BOSTON, Sept. 30, 2021—Threats to employee well-being continue to intensify well over a year into the pandemic, as evidenced by a 21% rise in burnout and a 17% increase in somatic stress symptoms, a new meQuilibrium study found. The study examined changes in overall well-being among 5,474 meQuilibrium members from a broad range of industries representing managers and individual contributors.

“Employee well-being continues to be under threat 18 months into the pandemic,” says Brad Smith, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, meQuilibrium. “Our data shows that workers continue to feel the cumulative mental health impacts of the crisis in the form of increased stress symptoms, burnout, and diminished motivation. We need to take action now to protect employee well-being before the clock runs out.”

The study also revealed a particularly large burnout risk increase among younger workers of 64%, which was nearly three times the increase for employees over 30 (22%). The increase in burnout symptoms is especially high among managers (+54%), hospitality (+48%), health care (+32%) and finance (30%) industry workers.

The cumulative mental health impacts of the crisis have been especially prominent in hospitality, finance and healthcare workers.


Those under 30 are facing significant increases in burnout risk.


When it comes to gender differences, meQuilibrium found that although men and women are experiencing about the same rate of increase in burnout (+24% in women and +25% in men), men’s somatic stress levels are rising at a faster rate than women’s (+9% for men vs +3% for women).

No matter what job title, gender or industry, a key factor in well-being risk is employer support. Employees who felt strongly supported by their employers reported the highest levels of well-being and were less likely to report turnover intent.

However, the new data shows a noteworthy downturn in the extent to which employees felt well-supported by their employers. Just six months ago, 78% of employees felt well-supported, dropping down to 71% today. While the data uncovered a broad-based drop in employee perceptions of strong employer support, the drop was precipitously larger (+20%) among managers than among individual contributors. Burnout symptoms among employees who had poor employer support were twice as high as those who felt protected.

In contrast, employees who felt strongly supported by their employer were:

  • 91% more engaged with the company’s mission and vision
  • 66% more connected to their job
  • 52% less likely to be considering quitting their job
  • 27% less worried about balancing work and family

Managers and individual contributors who take an active part in self-care and resilience-building have better outcomes than those who do not. While the least engaged employees reported increases of 36% in somatic stress, there was no increase in somatic stress symptoms among the most engaged members who participated in digital resilience coaching and self-care.

“Employers who continue to place a premium on employee well-being and performance can moderate the negative effects of the pandemic on their people before they become overwhelmed,” explained Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder, meQuilibrium. “Together with the increase noted in manager burnout, the finding that managers feel less well supported strongly underscores the importance of companies making an extra effort to care for their managers.”

The full meQuilibrium study can be found here.

Methodology: meQuilibrium’s COVID-19 check-in study examined changes in overall well-being among a sample of 5,474 meQuilibrium members who completed a self-check in July 2021, compared with a previous self-check in December 2020. The sample is broadly representative of the meQuilibrium member population and includes employees from a wide range of industries representing both managers and individual contributors.

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