‘Work-more’ economy leads to burnout and flight of top performers 

Understaffed workplaces are a major cause of employee stress.

The Great Recession was a contradictory period for many businesses. While some companies were forced to lay off many of their employees, others saw record profits. These "lean-and-mean" workforces toiled to keep their companies afloat. Although the economy has improved, some businesses are choosing to keep their staffs smaller, but such actions may be detrimental to employees and the organization itself.

In 2012, Workforce Magazine coined the term "work-more economy" to describe the phenomenon of businesses expecting employees to do more with less. This often involves workers wearing multiple hats, staying in the office for longer hours and taking on leadership roles that they may not be suited for. Not surprisingly, this situation has put employees under a significant amount of stress. John Bremen, a managing director at Towers Watson, said the squeeze put on employees has led to a U.S. workforce that is "maxed out."

According to a 2013 study conducted by Towers Watson, employees rank inadequate staffing as their number one cause of stress. The analysis also found that employers and employees don't seem to be on the same page about this issue.

"Only inadequate staffing is ranked in the top three causes of stress from both employer and employee points of view," the report states. "Based on 10 drivers of workforce stress, employees ranked lack of work/life balance fifth, while employers ranked it first. Furthermore, employees ranked low pay or low pay increases as their second-biggest source of stress,  while employers ranked it ninth."

Studies like these point to the urgent need for organizations to address stress, and the issues behind it, as a critical component for staying profitable and retaining top talent.