The Cities with The Highest Burnout

Today’s demand to be ‘always-on’ sees burnout becoming a more popular phenomenon. But which cities are the biggest culprits for employee burnout?

We reviewed data from 7 reputable sources including the International Labour Organization, the Global Employee Engagement Index, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in addition to over 340,000 employee reviews on Glassdoor to rank global cities by their burnout potential. A total of 69 cities from 53 countries were analyzed.

View our data below and click on each data point for more information.

What is burnout, and why should I be concerned?

In May 2019, the World Health Organization included burnout in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The WHO sees burnout as a result of work stress that hasn’t been managed, suggesting the following three symptoms:

Feelings of low energy and exhaustion
Decreased motivation and increased distance from work, or feelings of cynicism towards a role and even wider society
Reduced performance and results at work

The bad news is that these are common feelings for many employees around the world. According to research from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, 1 in 5 employees are currently at risk of burnout.

With increasing professional pressures, heavy workloads and unclear expectations, employees often find themselves working later, socializing less and having impacted sleep.

It can lead to a vicious cycle of stress. By socializing less, employees are less able to get support from friends and loved ones. And poor sleep leads to tiredness and poor performance at work – which in itself reduces an employee’s confidence in their abilities and motivation to work.

It can be difficult to break the stress cycle and it can begin to take its toll on our physical health, too. Heart disease, high blood pressure and mental health issues are commonly found in those with severe burnout.

Which worldwide cities are the worst for employee burnout?

Asian cities dominate the top 10, with Tokyo, Japan taking the top spot. It’s perhaps unsurprising given overworking is so intense in Japan that employees consider 99 hours of overtime a month as having a strong work-life balance.

Our research suggests there’s an extreme lack of employee motivation at work in Tokyo. Plus, the city tops the list for employee presenteeism as well as having a high lack of sleep, as 54.5% of people in Tokyo get less than the recommended 7 hours.

However, Mumbai, India demonstrates the longest working hours in the study. As a result it comes second in our research. The vast amount of time workers find themselves stuck in traffic to and from work also lengthens their working day considerably.

Seoul, South Korea ranked third worst in part because the city offers limited vacation with just 14.2 days. Furthermore, 52% of the population sleep less than the recommended 7 hours. There has been a growth of “nap cafes” within Seoul due to workers feeling severely sleep deprived from their extended hours at the office.

Which cities are the biggest culprits for causing employee burnout in Europe?

While working culture may be different in Europe, there’s still evidence of some European cities suffering from risk factors of burnout.

Istanbul, Turkey (6th overall) acts as a border between Asia and Europe. The city is at the most risk for employee burnout in Europe. This is influenced by its high percentage of the country’s population working more than 48 hours per week weeks (29.4%).

London, UK (15th overall) is the highest-ranked city in Western Europe, scoring highly across the “percentage of the population sleeping less than 7 hours” and “percentage of stressed Glassdoor reviews” categories. The English capital is seen as an economic hub for the financial services industry – a sector known for long hours, high pressure and mental health issues. This fast-paced lifestyle does, incidentally, spill out into many job sectors in London, perhaps leading to its poor performance in the table.

Rome, Italy is the third highest city in Europe for risk of burnout. This is surprising given its low work hours. Employees work, on average, less than 31 hours a week or 1,581.4 hours a year. The average of all cities analyzed is 1,984.68 hours per year, just above 38 hours per week. Despite this, analysis from Glassdoor shows Rome has the third highest proportion of stressed employee reviews.

On the flip side, the top ten cities with the least occupational burnout are all located in Europe.

European Cities with the Highest Burnout

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City
Country
Overall

Which cities are the biggest culprits for causing employee burnout in the US?

Los Angeles, California (9th overall) is the highest-scoring US city for employee burnout – which is in line with a recent survey from the Robert Half staffing agency claiming over 50% of LA workers self-diagnose themselves with burnout. It’s interesting to see a city previously known for its laid-back SoCal vibe disappearing to an image of overworking and stress. The rise of tech giants in the area may be playing a part in LA’s growing overworking culture.

Chicago, Illinois (12th overall) was the second highest-scoring US city. Employees in Chicago have the longest work hours of all analyzed American cities (employees work on average nearly 41 hours a week or 2,123.50 annual hours). The US average of all cities analyzed was 2,051.24 annual hours.

The city that never sleeps, New York City, ranks as the third highest US city, but 17th overall. According to Glassdoor data, there is a fair proportion of employees experiencing stress (2.21% of 1,082 reviews mentioned the word “stress”).

Though still relatively high on a global scale, Miami, Florida (27th overall) performs well compared with its competing native cities. Miami is known for its many cultural influences and is nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America” due to its high Spanish population. Perfectly situated near the Bahamas and Cuba, one of Miami’s largest industries is travel & leisure – a sector synonymous with work-life balance and far from long office hours.

US Cities with the Highest Burnout

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City
Country
Overall

The top ten cities with the least occupational burnout

All top ten cities with the least occupational burnout are in Europe. Europe has often enjoyed a reputation for being more laid-back than its continental counterparts and this attitude is reflected in France’s recent law allowing employees to switch off from work emails when out of the office.

The lowest scoring global city for work burnout is Tallinn, Estonia. The city offers a generous amount of vacation, with an average of 29.1 paid days off. Plus, just 5.6% of the population work more than 48 hours a week.

Ljubljana, Slovenia (68th) has the second-lowest risk of employee burnout. Just 5.5% of Slovenia’s population works more than 48 hours a week. While commuters spend only 27.93 minutes in traffic to and from work, compared to the average of all analyzed cities, 40.10 minutes.

Furthermore, the city with the highest amount is Nairobi, Kenya, where employees spend on average 56.44 minutes on the roads. This means commuters in Ljubljana have half the amount of time in traffic compared to Nairobi. The city is a strong performer across all other metrics, showing the workforce in Ljubljana is content.

Oslo, Norway (67th) has been reported to be one of the happiest places in the world according to the World Happiness Report. Work-life balance is taken very seriously in Norway and just 4.2% of the entire population works 48 hours or more a week

Conclusion

European cities (barring London) perform well in the study, with a relatively low risk of work burnout. And while Asian cities and US cities are at higher risk, they appear to be doing more to tackle the causes of burnout.

It’s important to note that, while our study looks at burnout at a city-level, it’s down to individual employers to play their role in establishing a healthier workplace culture. They should encourage employees to get enough rest and achieve a strong work-life balance to ensure they’re happy at work.

It’s in employers’ best interests to prevent burnout, too. “Presenteeism” is a common result of burnout, referring to when employees struggle to carry out their job from lack of interest and sheer exhaustion. It can cost businesses millions. In fact, the total cost of presenteeism in the US alone is estimated to be $225.8 billion per year.

Ashley Doyle
Staff Writer at Savvy Sleeper commented on the findings:

“It is interesting to see Estonia receives the most positive score in our study, over the typically expected Nordic countries like Norway, Finland and Denmark.

“Our study shows cities with reasonable working hours, good vacation policies and quality sleep not only have more motivated employees but also higher workplace productivity, despite staff working shorter hours.

“It’s a positive sign that cities like Tokyo and Seoul are recognising this correlation too, by introducing new laws to limit overworking and burnout among staff. However, our results show significant changes will need to be made for these cities to catch-up with European workplaces.”

Tips employees can use to prevent burnout

Sleep

Insomnia is one of the symptoms of burnout, while a lack of sleep amplifies other burnout-related feelings. By improving your sleep routine, it is possible to break the cycle of burnout by feeling more energized and productive.

Exercise

The benefits of exercise have been widely documented, helping individuals alleviate stress with the release of endorphins. Research by the Peninsula College of Medicine has also shown a stronger reduction of physical tension and stress while exercising outdoors. Incorporating outdoor exercise into your routine will aid with burnout-related symptoms.

Socialize

A strong social support group is essential for preventing burnout. Talking about job concerns helps identify exactly what’s wrong and others can give advice on how to deal with things.

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Methodology

Each data point consists of the latest research available from reputable sources. The data was standardized using minmax normalization. The minmax normalization value is multiplied by 10 to create a score (between 0-10). A score of 10 indicates the highest degree of burnout within that category. Each city is then ranked on their overall average rating across all data points, which includes both city-level data and one country-level data point. Users can see the overall ranking as well as which cities scored the highest in the different data points individually.

Amount of Stressed Employee Reviews
Employee Presenteeism
Lack of Motivation at Work
Annual Work Hours
UBS
Vacation Time
UBS
Population Working More Than 48 Hours
Mental Health Disorder & Substance Abuse Prevalence
Population Sleeping Less Than 7 Hours
Time Spent in Traffic From Work