HR chiefs and C-suite leaders are struggling to stave off their own feelings of burnout

February 23, 2023, 12:53 PM UTC
Tired businessman with money briefcase sleeping on ascending arrow
Forty percent of executives said they feel overwhelmed at their jobs, according to a survey by Deloitte.
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Good morning!

It’s time to talk about executive burnout. Earlier this month, I spoke with HR and payroll software company UKG’s chief people officer Pat Wadors about how leaders can improve employees’ mental health. But what stuck with me most was a question Wadors posed at the end of the conversation regarding executives: “How do we take the oxygen mask and be there for employees?”

The truth is HR heads, and C-suite leaders in general, are tired. A survey by Deloitte found that executives are experiencing levels of burnout that are just as high as their employees, and it’s affecting how they show up in their roles and think about their tenure.

Almost 70% of surveyed C-suite executives responded that they are “seriously considering quitting for a job that better supports their well-being.” And 40% said they always or often feel overwhelmed at work.

Even more surprising, more C-suite executives (26%) reported struggling with depression than employees (23%). 

“I want us to figure out a way to create a virtual oxygen mask for HR or the C-suite and put it into how you run your business to care for each other,” Wadors told Fortune. “That’s a best practice because [otherwise] it shows up as sleep deprivation. And because we’re giving so much at the moment, our responses aren’t as great as they should be.”

My colleague Paige McGlauflin also addressed the effects of burnout on the C-suite in her most recent piece about high turnover among tech leaders. Many are experiencing a growing sense of fatigue that has resulted in shorter tenures. Tech executives cite “burnout and a desire to take on more responsibilities for their interest in switching roles,” she writes, noting that these leaders also point to a “lack of resources to do their job effectively.”

It’s fair to say that if left unaddressed, executive burnout will disrupt companies in ways yet to be seen. 

I want to hear from you. What are your concerns about burnout in the C-suite? Send your thoughts, solutions, and personal stories to, and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of CHRO Daily.

Amber Burton

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