Burnout is Real, and These are Tech’s Main Offenders: Study

Burnout is something any tech pro can experience, and a new study shows it can happen at even the largest companies with the best perks. This data also hints at which big tech companies you may want to avoid if you fear burnout.

Blind recently queried its users to find out the true extent of industry burnout. Based off 11,487 respondents (over 11 days), the company reports 57.16 percent say they’re burnt out. That leaves 42.84 percent reporting no burnout.

The question is binary, and only starts to tell the tale. Of the 30 companies Blind tracked for its study, 25 had a ‘burnout rate’ of 50 percent or higher. Just over half of those companies (16) had above-average burnout numbers (57.16 percent is Blind’s average).

Of the companies tracked, credit-monitoring company Credit Karma had the highest burnout percentage, with 70.73 percent of its employees reportedly ‘over it.’ Amazon’s Twitch was second with 68.75 percent, while NVIDIA ranked third with 65.38 percent of employees reporting burnout. Expedia and the Yahoo-AOL Frankenstein ‘Oath’ rounded out the top five with 65.00 and 63.93 percent, respectively.

If you’re looking for a job in tech with a big company, Netflix is a good option. It ranks lowest in Blind’s burnout survey at 38.89 percent. Second lowest is PayPal at 41.82 percent, comfortably ahead of Twitter’s 43.90 percent. Facebook and Uber (surprisingly) round out the bottom five with 48.97 and 49.52 percent of employees reporting burnout, respectively.

Blind’s anonymous platform lends itself to openness, so we’re inclined to believe the self-reporting here. It also uses its own review system to qualify its findings, noting Credit Karma seems to suffer from mixed (or “polarized”) reviews. It also says Netflix’s culture has been described as ‘cultish,’ which casts a bit of doubt on whether or not its low burnout reporting is all that accurate.

Still, this report is troubling, even for those companies that are outperforming others. For example, Netflix’s 38.89 percent burnout figure tells us over one-third of its employees report they’ve hit the end of their line, despite the wonderful perks and benefits. And if Netflix is the best example of a job in tech, we can only imagine what it’s like to work at Credit Karma.

Job burnout infographic

27 Responses to “Burnout is Real, and These are Tech’s Main Offenders: Study”

  1. Anonymous

    Burn out does not have anything to do with the company you work for. it has to do with the people you work with. Mostly Indians. Indian managers treat you like slaves. They are rude and expect you to work around the clock. IT has a lot of Indians. We need more diversity in IT. These Indians have ruined the profession.

    • I have experienced this from my managers as well but they were as white as snow. I have also witnessed some of the workers on h1 b being worked like slaves. Don’t blame the Indians who are just trying to make a living. Corporate greed created this mess.

  2. eggmatters

    Interesting. Never experienced that in the least working with anybody from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. Maybe it’s because I’m not, you know, racist.

  3. Steve

    I would like to see the age representation of the respondents. Are the burnt out employees largely in one age group? Many of these tech companies seek to hire young people, which often find the work place over demanding due to their lack of experience with real work.

  4. Big part of burnout like Kevin and Rick said, is the fact that you do the same thing in and out but you never get to move to something else. No explanations from managers except to do this to get promoted. You do that but still get passed over. A lot of companies hire people with the newer skills because they know the buzz words but have no real experience making it work in IT. No training is offered for the older workers that want to learn new skills and move to different work areas in IT.

  5. Could it also be that the companies that are ranked high in “burnout” have mostly older employees? I would think older employees are closer to that “burnout” stage.

    I entered the workforce about 20 years ago and am starting to feel the burn. Maybe it’s just me.

  6. Managers, do you have any real, concrete plans to help stop this practice? Quit looking at older workers as a liability. We have families and we may have higher insurance needs but we have earned it and proved it with our work.

  7. Tom Ketcher

    After 40 years in DP/IT I took a year sabbatical. I plan to go back to work after 66 and collecting full retirement pension from SS. I have been a Mainframe DBA since 1984 and still get calls every day from Headhunters

  8. Something doesn’t sounds right. I’ve always heard Netflix over works people and Oath (I’m an ex-employee) does not have enough work. They are busy integrating business with Yahoo.

    • Sometimes not having enough work can cause burnout. It’s how you feel about the work– if you feel motivated and like you’re making regular progress, you’re at lower risk. If you feel bored and unproductive every day it’s going to catch up to you.

  9. Ramesh

    First off, people need to avoid racist comments. Next, a major part of the burnout is due to deteriorating corporate (neoliberal) culture, where the market (shareholders/investors) expects great returns without regards to the conditions of the employees or the ethics of production. Management succumbs and ships jobs to places where they can pay less and also threatens those in US with layoffs. Our Congress is guilty AF encouraging such corporate policies. Alan Greenspan testified in Congress that JOB INSECRUITY was the cause for economic growth. Burnout happens when you do the same thing over and over, true. I have been coding for 20 years – not much involvement in design or architecture. But it mostly happens when the employees are not rewarded adequately. I worked at one company (E*Trade) for 10 years without a pay raise or a promotion or exciting responsibilities. But that could be my unique experience. Also the company suffered tremendously during the 2008 recession because it was invested in mortgages. It was a miracle it didn’t close shop. In short, it is complicated.

  10. Information Technology and the army of people who work it are a massive cost code to most companies and as such, salaries and headcount are first to go. Add in the ridiculous pay packages given to senior level folks and managers (some who earn, mst who aren’t worth a fraction of their pay), makes the situation worse for the people on the front line. IT and DP and all of the components (servers/programmers/analysts/Databases/Network s/w and h/w/ service contracts to keep it all going/ salaries/benefits/perks) is all driving Corporations to cut out heads, and bring in low cost junior college whiz kids, whom will promptly see the BS and continue the rotation in and out of IT Departments (further driving up costs for companies). it’s a whore’s business anymore.

    • wageslave

      Ramesh, your experience is not unique. You have gone a decade without a pay raise. That means you have been taking a pay cut each year to inflation. After ten years your skills have become very specific and very valuable to your employer. Katona’s law states that, ‘People (Employers) do not value what they are not paying for’. Thanks to inflation you are undervalued. Meaning they cannot replace you and your skill set without paying much more; the market rate which in theory adjusts for inflation. That is not job security because you are paying a terrible price in opportunity cost over your life time. One day you will turn 45 and the job market will dry up because management by budget values the bottom line over all else. Any company that discriminates against older workers is rewarded with lower health care premiums and that adds to the bottom line. You have a shelf life and you cannot sit on your laurels taking a substandard wage because it will hamper your lifetime earnings to the point of living the later part of your life in poverty. Your job is not secure by accepting a decade of pay cuts because that shelf life is fast approaching and the cost of your healthcare premium will exceed the management perceived discount. You need to push for ten years of pay cuts. At least a 20% raise just to get back to even and then you are going to hit an enviable wall (45).

  11. Tommy

    Indians? Try working for the Japanese. I don’t mind working till 10 pm if there’s a critical deadline that has to be met. Although my experience was pleasant, I was promoted a bunch of times, I got to travel to great places and I made good money. The problem is they “stay” not work till 10pm every night and expect you to do it too. Family is more important to me.

  12. This isn’t happening in just the I.T. industry. I worked in civil and architectural and environmental engineering, I.T., and newsprint in marketing and graphic design, and trust me burn out is real there too. In a deadline driven environment (like, who isn’t working in a deadline driven environment?), putting in 80 hours a week for months on end is common place (too common, if you ask me). Burn out isn’t due to just industry trends, but more the business model where stakeholders and upper management work their subordinates to the bone, thinking their being pragmatic in their approach to make demands without researching or understanding the affects on human beings, focused on the quarterly projections and meeting goals than realizing their real money makers are their employees. Very few, and I mean less than 1% in most upper management, understand that it’s their employees that are their main business drivers. The larger the company gets, the less it’s about innovation and more about efficiency and production through-put. However, human beings thrive in environments where their creative spirit is free to explore, even with strict guidelines towards an end product/service.

    I have witnessed first-hand the detrimental effects of putting projections first over talent. Talent leaves, which means productivity suffers because retraining someone takes time and money. It’s cyclical, due to the nature of the business model that has taken over Corporate America for the past three decades, maybe longer. With large bonuses at stake, with mid to large-sized businesses, projections will come first and people come last.

  13. It doesn’t have anything to do with race, age, or monotony. It’s the industry expectation of long work weeks. Employers tell you all about work-life balance and comp time during the interview. Once you accept the position, they tell you it’s expected to work a 50 hour week, and that’s the norm. Those hours go up if something breaks, and it always does. Not to mention being on call 24/7. The problem now is that IT managers have no comprehension of basic economics. You cannot take on more projects than you have resources to accomplish. I don’t mind working late to fix something that is broken. I very much dislike working late because I’ve been placed on 4 projects that will require 40 hours of my time each, and all 4 projects are due next week.

  14. I’ve been in IT since 1994. I started out in support roles, then Networking/SysAdmin, Web Design, and finally transitioned to Tech Writing (I have an English degree and can write fairly well). In 1994 I was 28 years old. Tech was fun then. Now I’m 52 and the thought of another day in IT makes me want to puke. Burned out? Yeah, I’ve been burned out for at least the last 10 years, but the options aren’t that great out there. Ageism is VERY real folks. I’m in that lovely spot of being too young to retire and too old to change career direction. Oh sure, I could go get some other job…for 10 bucks an hour and no benefits. Yeah, that’s a winning plan! Get another tech job? Sure…companies are lining up to hire 50 somethings aren’t they? It doesn’t matter that I’ve spent my life in IT…after age 35, you suddenly don’t know a damn thing…at least that what all of your co-workers think (these are the same people who were in daycare when you were graduating college). And even if I did, it’s the same story everywhere. In addition to what all the other comments here have already mentioned, it’s the pace of tech that is killing people. When the process/apps/tools you use to do your job are constantly changing, you are in a constant state of chaos. This causes additional stress because you are constantly trying to learn the new tool/process/whatever, just to maintain your current level of production. Then, toss in all the corporate bullshit and ignorant mandated ideas that don’t work (agile development?), and it’s a recipe for disaster. I just hope I can survive long enough to retire. But I’m having my doubts. In the coming years it will be interesting to see how many people actually stay in a tech field until they reach retirement age. My guess is it won’t be many…even if they would like to do so.