Employee burnout a common occurrence in UAE companies

Businesses risk employee burnout if they don't manage workloads appropriately.

  • Nearly two thirds (63%) of UAE HR directors cite ‘workload’ as the primary reason for employee burnout
  • Robert Half highlights warning signs that your employees may be running on empty

Dubai, 25 February 2013 – Four in ten (41%) UAE HR directors say employee burnout is common within their organisation, according to new research1 from leading recruitment specialist Robert Half UAE. However, this figure rises to nearly half (49%) of Abu Dhabi-based companies compared to 34% of Dubai organisations.  

The research also reveals that nearly two thirds (63%) of UAE HR directors cite ‘workload’ as the primary reason for employee burnout, followed by ‘overtime / long working hours’ (57%), ‘economic pressures’ (37%) and ‘inability to balance personal and professional commitments’ (33%).

James Sayer, Director, Robert Half UAE said: “It is no secret that professionals in the UAE are working hard, with heavy workloads and overtime taking their toll on employees. While companies are having to do more with less, inadequate staffing levels may result in a decrease in employee motivation and productivity and in some cases increased attrition rates as employees seek greater work-life balance with competing organisations.”

Research conducted by Robert Half UAE last year showed that nearly nine in 10 (89%) Dubai-based employees work longer than their contracted hours and one in four (24%) working over-time every day of the week2. With eight in ten (81%) HR directors concerned about losing top performers over the course of the year, employee burnout and work-life balance should be primary considerations in an organisation’s retention strategy3.

When asked if any initiatives had been implemented to prevent employee burnout, HR directors said they are reviewing/restructuring job functions and tasks (47%), promoting a teamwork-based environment (47%), encouraging employees to take time off (36%) and  encouraging team-building activities (28%).

James Sayer continues: “We’ve seen increased hiring across the UAE, with a recent survey indicating that one in three (32%) companies are planning to create new permanent positions in the first half of the year. As workloads continue to rise, hopefully the additional hiring will bring much-needed resource to over-stretched, over-worked teams, helping with morale and motivation as well as retention levels.”

HR Directors were asked, ’What three factors contribute most to employee burnout?Their responses:

Workload 63%
Overtime / long work hours 57%
Economic pressures 37%
Inability to balance personal and professional commitments 33%
Lack of recognition 29%
Unachievable expectations 28%
Operational inefficiencies 21%
Bad relationship with manager and/or colleagues 12%
Lack of positive and timely feedback from management 11%
Lack of clear and defined business / departmental strategy 8%


Robert Half UAE highlights the following warning signs that your employee may be “running on empty”:

  • Frequently late for work
  • Less productive
  • Frequently disagrees with managers or colleagues
  • Disconnected from work
  • Increased amount of sick leave
  • Negativity and emotional outbursts


Notes to editors

1 The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 75 HR directors from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The survey was conducted in December 2012.

2 The survey was conducted in June 2012.

3The survey was conducted in December 2012.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 350 offices worldwide providing permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, human resources and legal professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.ae.