Stressed and burned out? Quitting your job may not help

The Great Resignation is set to continue, and young and burned out workers will be leading the charge.

That’s according to the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and millennial survey.

Burnout was cited as one of the top three reasons for why young people are leaving their jobs, according to the global survey which found that some 40% of Gen Zers (ages 19-24) and 24% of millennials (ages 28-39) would like to leave their jobs within two years.

This will continue to be “a significant retention issue for employers,” Deloitte wrote, as some 46% of Gen Zers and 45% of millennials surveyed said they feel burned out due to their work environments.

It may feel to us like the only way to escape the hold work has on us is by doing something dramatic, like leaving our current position altogether.

Vanessa Bohns

organizational behavior professor, Cornell University

While experts told CNBC Make It burnout is felt “across the board” regardless of age, Gen Zers and millennials are more likely to feel the pain.

As the labor shortage continues, employees are taking on more responsibilities at work, which impedes on their work-life balance and flexibility. This is a big red flag for younger generations,” said Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, a workplace psychologist and behavioral expert. 

“By looking for what’s missing in their current role, younger generations are hopeful to find a better culture and flexibility fit, which in their mind, could help alleviate their current state of burnout.”

But is leaving one’s job really the best solution to burnout? CNBC Make It finds out.

Quitting is not a ‘cure-all’

Leaving your job may be the best solution in some situations, for example, if the workplace culture is toxic, said Dr. Katrina Gisbert-Tay, a medical doctor trained in psychology and wellbeing coach with The Coach Partnership.

However, quitting is the only or best option “less often than we think,” said Vanessa Bohns, a professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University.

“It may feel to us like the only way to escape the hold work has on us is by doing something dramatic, like leaving our current position altogether.”

Bohns added: “In many cases, there is more we can do to change our current circumstances than we realize.”

…never underestimate a company that will listen, recognize and promote change to improve areas of employee dissatisfaction.

Dr. Natalie Baumgartner

workplace psychologist

“We might assume certain requests — a more flexible work schedule, shorter weeks, a sabbatical, or just a long vacation — are non-starters at our current job, and so the only way to really change our situation is to leave it for a completely new one.”

Bohns, who is also the author of “You Have More Influence Than You Think,” attributed high levels of burnout to technology, which she said has tethered people to work at all hours and “the idea that we have to … prioritize work over all else.”

“The problem is that these norms are so widespread that employees may find themselves in a new job, right back in the same kind of situation they were trying to leave.”

Instead, employees should consider what boundaries they can set for themselves, Gisbert-Tay added. “[Quitting] feels like the easy way … rather than to really figure out what is going on.”

“No matter what industry, job you have, you may have the same scenario. The question that I ask my clients is where is your personal agency? What are the requests that you need to make? How are you going to take care of yourself?”

“For me, those are more powerful questions than asking, ‘Should I quit this job?'” 

Ways to recover from burnout 

Rather than taking the signs of burnout as an indication to leave your job, here are some tips to consider without making the switch:

1. Make new arrangements 

If you are feeling burned out and want to quit your job, Bohns advised thinking about arrangements that would “make you happier at your current position” and ask for them.

According to her research with more than 14,000 participants, she found that people tend to have an “overly pessimistic view” of how likely people are to comply with requests.

“If you’re already willing to leave, there’s not much to lose, and you might be pleasantly surprised by the response,” Bohns said. 

Feeling burnt out? Think of work arrangements that would make you happier at your current position and ask for them, said Vanessa Bohns, a organizational behavior professor at Cornell University.

Hinterhaus Productions | Stone | Getty Images

Baumgartner also stressed that young workers “must advocate and voice for their needs” at their workplace, instead of “throwing in the towel.” 

“Identify solutions and opportunities to share feedback, to partner with leadership and human resources on addressing root issues that may resolve the desire to leave.”  

She added: “They may still choose to go but never underestimate a company that will listen, recognize and promote change to improve areas of employee dissatisfaction.” 

2. Know your limits

According to Gisbert-Tay, an important part of drawing boundaries is being “intentional” in discovering your personal limits. 

“For example, what is your stop time? There will be times when your boss needs something at 7 a.m. the next day … but it’s knowing, when does it become too much for you?”

She added that the limit is different for everyone and it will change from time to time. 

“What you need right now in the current situation may not be what you need six months down the road.”

Proactive recovery, through activities like seeing friends, spending time in nature, and accomplishing personal goals combats burnout by re-energizing us.

Vanessa Bohns

organizational behavior professor, Cornell University

To cope with feeling overwhelmed at work, Gisbert-Tay also advised young workers to take stock of their time. 

“Taking 30 minutes to go through your schedule, listing out the things you need to prioritize, that’s really important. You may have a million things on your schedule, but there’s going to be a top five. 

3. Proactive recovery


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