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Older Workers May Be Less Susceptible to Burnout

Not having to balance child care and job duties could be key in dealing with pandemic fallout

A woman is stressed out at work

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En español | A lot of workers are feeling stretched thin these days because of the coronavirus pandemic, which is forcing many to juggle work and family needs while at home and to pick up the slack for laid-off colleagues. But older people seem to be handling the strain better than younger ones.

In a new survey of 2,800 U.S. employees by staffing company Robert Half, 29 percent of those age 55 and older said they are feeling more burned out today than a year ago. The figure was 37 percent for respondents ages 25 to 40 and 32 percent for those ages 41 to 54.

In a companion survey, Robert Half found that 88 percent of senior managers are worried about staff retention, and nearly half of those managers say it's because employees generally are struggling under heavy workloads.


Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, said via email that more older workers may be avoiding burnout because they have refined their time management skills over the years and developed the ability to separate work from the rest of their lives. “There may also be an element of not pulling double duty between caring for children who are home schooling and working full time,” McDonald observed.

Older employees who are suffering from burnout face the same potentially harmful effects as younger ones, according to McDonald. “It's dangerous and counterproductive to creativity and overall health,” he explained.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, job burnout is associated with excessive stress, fatigue, insomnia and extreme emotions. It's also linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and other physical ailments.

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