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Deloitte Survey: C-suite Execs are Burned Out, Delusional, and Lack Empathy (And Also Want to Quit)

A clueless executive

There’s some new Deloitte research out this week and it is hi-lar-ious. It seems executives have absolutely no clue what their underlings are going through, mistakenly think they’re doing a good job of making said underlings think they care, oh and they too are stressed AF and thinking about quitting their jobs. Man, things are FUCKED.

Deloitte partnered with independent research firm Workplace Intelligence to survey 2,100 employees and C-level executives across four countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. The survey results revealed eye-opening findings, including that nearly 70% of the C-suite are seriously considering quitting for a job that better supports their well-being. To that we say: good luck with that.

76% of the C-suite said that the pandemic has negatively affected their well-being while fewer than two out of three employees rated various dimensions of their health as “excellent” or “good.” The charts below show reported well-being along with execs’ perception of employee well-being which, well, just look:

Deloitte survey: The C-suite significantly underestimates how much employees are struggling with their well-being

That disparity in financial well-being tho.

Just how many of the people surveyed are constantly struggling with fatigue, stress, heavy workloads, loneliness, and depression? Too many. The figure below shows how many reported “always” or “often” feeling these things:

Deloitte survey: Around one out of three employees and executives are constantly struggling with fatigue and poor mental health. CONSTANTLY.

Interestingly, executives’ own struggles do not translate into empathy for the struggles of their employees. Nothing groundbreaking here, it’s just a bit startling seeing it laid out this clearly:

However, despite struggling with well-being themselves, it’s clear that the C-suite doesn’t appreciate the extent to which their employees feel the same way. In contrast with what employees reported, more than eight out of 10 global executives believe their people are thriving in all aspects of their well-being (figure 1). [scroll back up for figure 1 if you’d like]

Many employees don’t feel that their executives have been supportive during the pandemic—but the C-suite sees things much differently. For example, only 47% of workers believe their executives understand how difficult the pandemic has been for them, yet 90% of the C-suite say they do recognize how challenging it’s been. Similarly, while only 53% of employees feel that their company’s executives have been making the best decisions for their well-being during the pandemic, 88% of the C-suite believe their decision-making has been exemplary.

Perhaps most alarmingly, we discovered that only 56% of employees think that their company’s executives care about their well-being. However, the C-suite sees things in a much different light: Ninety-one percent believe that employees feel their leaders care about them. It’s a notable gap, one that the C-suite must work to address.

There’s one area where the C-suite racks up higher numbers than employees and that’s working too hard:

Deloitte survey: Both executives and employees are finding it difficult to prioritize their health

Perhaps these self-reported figures on just how hard they work are a carryover from the old days when working too much was considered a point of pride rather than something that prompts the question “what? WHY??”Ah wait yes, here it is. That’s exactly why they report overworking:

Overall, 63% of employees and 73% of the C-suite reported that they aren’t able to take time off and disconnect. When asked why, respondents said that they have too much work to do (24%), they want people to know they’re dedicated to their job (22%), and no one would be able to cover for them while they’re away (22%). One out of four executives said they don’t disconnect because their workload would be unmanageable when they return (25%) and they’re afraid they would miss out on important messages or emails (24%).

There’s just so much here. Like how about this, look how fulfilled executives are. No wonder they’re constantly spouting off about culture and collaboration and forward-thinking or whatever jargon it is they’re using this week…THEY LOVE IT.

Deloitte survey: Only around one out of three employees say their job has a positive impact on their physical, mental, and social well-being

Here’s what’s weird though. They report their jobs having a positive impact on their physical, mental, social, and financial well-being yet the C-suite is more likely than their more honest employees to want to quit their jobs:

But even though the C-suite executives were more positive about their job’s role in their well-being, they were more likely than employees to say they’d leave their role for a job that better supports their well-being. While 57% of employees are seriously considering quitting for a more supportive job, nearly seven out of 10 executives are thinking about taking this leap (figure 5).

Deloitte survey: Employees and executives put a high premium on having a job that supports their well-being

Axios had the best take on these survey results: Even your boss wants to quit.

What have we learned here, kids? Well, everyone is miserable (knew that). Executives are completely disconnected from the employees who work for them (knew that too). They think they pay you better than they actually do (definitely knew that). And they really, really want to quit their super fulfilling but stressful jobs. Executives: they’re just like us!