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Corporate Burnout Is Coming For Investor Profits



Key takeaways

  • Corporate burnout is on the rise, particularly among middle management
  • Financially, the costs of corporate burnout include $1.8 trillion in lost productivity in the U.S. alone
  • Other impacts include higher training and retention budgets to address rising turnover
  • The more companies lose to corporate burnout, the less profit they have to show investors

Corporate burnout is on the rise again – particularly among middle management.

The numbers are clear: in 2022, over four million U.S. workers left their jobs each month. Some who participated in the Great Resignation left their jobs to seek better pay or hybrid opportunities. But a not-insubstantial number cited toxic workplaces or just feeling…well, burnt out.

It’s well known that employee turnover can cost businesses big bucks. But companies that address their “burnout culture” may find themselves struggling less with retention, lowering their overall costs while bumping productivity and profits.

And as an investor, those are the companies that look mighty attractive on the cusp of a recession.

Speaking of.

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Corporate burnout is on the rise

Corporate burnout has been on the rise for around a year.

Increasingly, people report feeling exhausted by or trapped in their jobs. Many feel that the work offers few to no opportunities for advancement that could provide better conditions or more fulfilling work.

Corporate burnout is also linked to feelings of ineffectiveness, cynicism and depression – all of which can contribute to lost productivity.

McKinsey’s 2022 corporate burnout survey

Back in May 2022, McKinsey research found a 22% gap between employer and employee perceptions of mental health. Their survey of 15,000 employees in 15 countries found that workers were more likely than their employers to:

  • Witness or struggle with toxic workplace behaviors
  • See their workplaces as “poor environments”
  • Feel stigmatized or a lack of inclusivity and belonging
  • Have negative views on leadership accountability

Overall, workers in “toxic” workplaces suffered more symptoms of burnout, including anxiety, depression, distress and lower productivity. And it was these workers who were more likely to disengage with their jobs – or just leave entirely.

Asana research corroborates McKinsey’s findings

Shortly after, a 10,000-strong global survey of knowledge workers by Asana found that 70% of workers experienced burnout in the prior 12 months.

Burnout was highest among Gen Z, with 84% reporting job-related emotional distress compared to 74% of Millennials. Around half of Baby Boomers felt similarly. Burnout was also more prevalent in women than men, at 67% to 59%.

And sadly, 40% of workers believe that “burnout is an inevitable part of success” in the modern workplace.

Data from Deloitte and Workplace Intelligence put a finer point on how workers experience burnout, with:

  • 43% reporting feelings of exhaustion “always or often”
  • 42% suffering from stress
  • 35% feeling overwhelmed
  • 23% struggling with feelings of depression

Corporate burnout in 2023

Unfortunately, it looks like 2023 isn’t predicted to see much improvement over 2022.

Data from insolved’s annual year-end survey finds that a shocking 69% of employees suffered burnout due to workplace stressors and recession fears. That “unprecedented” rate saw 45% of respondents report a lack of enthusiasm, with over a quarter reporting unwillingness to perform “beyond their required responsibilities.”

To cope with the situation, over half of employees are looking for job opportunities elsewhere, be it a second job or new employment entirely.

Don’t forget about manager burnout

Employee burnout continues to climb at every level – but middle managers may be driving current trends. Research from Gallup and Microsoft finds that manager burnout has climbed since the start of the pandemic, and it’s only getting worse.

A recent Slack survey found that 43% of middle managers report burnout in the U.S. alone. Executives aren’t immune either: 40% report more work-related stress and anxiety, while 20% struggle with a worse work-life balance.

Experts say that manager burnout can be particularly problematic due to their unique blend of positioning and responsibilities. When managers stop showing effort, they stop encouraging and supporting lower-rung employees. That can lead to higher rates of employee dissatisfaction, “quiet quitting,” and toxic workplace complaints.

But now, many stressed-out managers aren’t staying in place – they’re seeking better, lower-impact opportunities. That has substantial impacts on corporate outcomes, as companies lacking managers struggle to find and retain talent.

And for current or new employees, manager burnout takes its toll. As data from BCG shows, in-person workers are 1.5 times more likely to burnout if they feel unsupported by management.

The dangers of not addressing corporate burnout

According to McKinsey’s report, “Organizations pay a high price for failure to address workplace factors that strongly correlate with burnout, such as toxic behavior.” Turning a blind eye to problems that lead to corporate burnout can lead to:

  • Higher attrition
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Decreased engagement
  • Lower productivity

In particular, employees who experience “high rates of toxic behavior” are eight times more likely to experience burnout. In turn, those employees are six times more likely to report intentions to leave in six months or less. That’s consistent with data showing that workplace toxicity is “ten times more predictive than compensation” for whether a company will suffer high turnover.

The cost of high attrition

McKinsey also cites a number of studies that show just how damaging corporate burnout can be.

Conservative estimates peg the cost of replacing employees at one-half to twice an employee’s annual salary. More progressive models suggest these costs are far higher – up to three times the exiting employee’s salary.

And that doesn’t account for the costs incurred while burnt-out employees continue to work, including the impacts of increased absenteeism and sick leave.

Lost productivity

Asana’s research suggests that corporate burnout is linked to low employee morale and reduced engagement. Workers are also more likely to miscommunicate on the job and make mistakes that can cost companies long-term.

In general, when employees are unhappy, they’re more likely to spread their resentment around the office. And as workers leave their positions – particularly if they don’t have a better opportunity lined up – their colleagues may ask just what drove them away.

All of this leads to decreased engagement and reduced productivity – both of which can be measured quantifiably. Data from HubSpot pegs the financial cost of lost productivity in the U.S. at an astonishing $1.8 trillion annually.

Fixing corporate burnout requires change

Companies will have to take myriad approaches to counter corporate burnout, depending on their unique problems. But, broadly speaking, research shows that companies can cultivate more positive workplaces through:

  • Salary transparency
  • Ensuring positive work-life balances with flexible scheduling practices
  • Remote or hybrid work opportunities
  • Addressing workplace toxicity, such as bad management
  • Supporting employees’ mental health
  • Hiring enough employees to manage a department’s workload
  • Reducing discrimination with forward-thinking DEI initiatives
  • Investing in employee growth and resilience

Of course, each of these solutions carries their own costs. But, as the numbers show, failure to address the underlying problems costs even more.

The investor cost of corporate burnout

Through all of this, we’ve focused on the corporate costs of employee burnout. But those costs don’t cease there – investors are heavily impacted, too.

While direct research is remarkably light on the topic, it stands to reason that when companies bleed productivity and training dollars, that’s potential profits circling the drain. (At least $1.8 trillion in lost productivity alone – oof.)

Companies with high turnover and low retention are also signaling to investors that internal problems – such as poor management or lowballing salaries – are leading to increased rates of employee dissatisfaction.

That’s before considering how burnout and low employee morale correlate to decreased innovation, preventing companies from building teams and products that can propel them to the next best thing.

As an investor, that means corporate burnout doesn’t just impact past and current investment performance, but future performance as well. Companies that fail to support their employees properly may still generate returns – but the opportunity cost involved with toxic workplaces may well be incalculable.

The bottom line

No industry is immune to corporate burnout – the problem extends from individual companies outward. However, as HR and management teams grow more attuned with employee needs, the personnel and financial hemorrhage may slow.

Only time will tell if corporations are willing to address their burnout problems on the front end with data fresh in their minds…or after their stock prices have taken a plunge.

But you don’t have to watch and wait as your portfolio takes a disgruntled employee-induced ride in 2023. With’s state-of-the-art AI-backed Investment Kits, you can invest with the power of a hedge fund and the speed of a swing trader.

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Bonds See 2023 Recession, Stocks Aren’t So Sure



The yield curve is one of the most robust recession predictors and has signaled a recession may be coming since mid 2022. In contrast, U.S. stocks as measured by the S&P 500 are up materially from the lows of last October and only just below year-to-date highs, seemingly rejecting recession fears. Yet, fixed income markets see the Fed potentially cutting rates by the summer, perhaps reacting to a U.S. recession.

The Evidence From The Bond Markets

The recessionary evidence, at least from fixed income markets, is mounting. The 10 yield Treasury yield has been below the 2 year yield consistently since last July. That is is called an inverted yield curve and has signaled a recession fairly reliably when compared to other leading indicators.

Building on that, fixed income markets see almost a nine in ten chance that the Federal Reserve cuts rates by September of this year. That’s something the Fed has repeatedly said they won’t do on their current forecasts. Yet, a recession could cause it to happen.

The Stock Market

In contrast, the stock market shows some optimism. The S&P 500 is up 7% year-to-date as the market has shrugged off fears of contagion from recent banking issues. In particular, tech stocks have rallied.

In contrast, more defensive sectors such as healthcare, utilities and consumer goods have lagged in 2023. This suggests that the stock market is taking more of a ‘risk on’ position and is perhaps less worried about the economy.


That said the stock market is a leading indicator of the business cycle, it may be that stocks see a recession, but are now looking past it to growth ahead and are factoring in the lower discount rates that a recession might bring as interest rates decline. Also, the U.S. stock market is relatively global, so the fate of the U.S. economy is a key factor in driving profits, but not the only one.

What’s Next?

Monitoring unemployment data will be key. Though the yield curve is a good long-term forecaster of recessions it is less precise in signaling when a recession starts. Unemployment rates can offer more accurate recession timing. Unemployment edged up in February, suggesting a recession may be near, but we’ve also seen monthly noise unemployment. Two similar monthly unemployment spikes during 2022 both proved false alarms.

However, if we see a sustained move up in unemployment from the low levels of 2022 that may be a relatively clear sign that a recession is here. Economist Claudia Sahm estimates that a sustained 0.5% increase in unemployment rate from 12-month lows is sufficient to trigger a recession. Unemployment rose 0.2% from January to February 2023, so maybe we’re on the way there. Of course, the jobs market performed better than expected in 2022 and it could do so again. Still, fixed income markets do suggest a 2023 recession is coming. Stock markets don’t necessarily share that view.

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Which States Have The Highest And Lowest Life Expectancies?



There’s a wide variance of life expectancies among the 50 states in the U.S., according to a recent report prepared by Assurance, an insurance technology platform that helps consumers with decisions related to insurance and financial well-being.

Figure 1 below shows the 10 states with the highest life expectancy, starting with Hawaii, the state with the highest life expectancy.

Figure 2 below shows the 10 states with the lowest life expectancy, starting with Mississippi, the state with the lowest life expectancy.

Assurance scoured life expectancy data prepared in January 2023 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With this data, Assurance created several easy-to-understand graphics that offer information about life expectancies.

Life expectancies are a basic measure of well-being

As measured by the CDC, life expectancies are a basic measurement of well-being in a broad population and not a prediction of how long an individual might live. The CDC measures the expected lifespan for a person born in the year of measurement. This measurement is calculated based on the assumption that the individual will live and die according to the rates of death that are prevalent in the measurement year for each age. There’s no assumed improvement or backsliding in the assumed mortality rates in future years for each age in the life expectancy calculation.


By contrast, an estimated lifespan for an individual would consider their current age, their gender, and some basic lifestyle information. It might also attempt to project future improvements or backsliding in mortality rates based on key factors.

Significant influences on life expectancy calculations

Leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer, and accidents in that order. These immediate causes are significantly influenced by factors in the population such as poverty rates, educational attainment, rates of obesity and smoking, access to healthcare, prevalence of violent crime, and the support people receive from federal, state, and local governments. All these factors can vary widely among different states, which can be a key reason why life expectancies vary by state.

When you think about it, all these factors also have the potential to influence a person’s quality of life. The measured life expectancy rate rolls up all these factors into one objective measurement of well-being that’s based on population data.

In addition to the factors listed above, mortality rates increased and life expectancies decreased in the past few years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent article titled “Live Free And Die” summarized recent research results that show that life expectancies in most countries around the world rebounded after the Covid-19 pandemic but that they continued to decline in the United States. Many of the reasons cited in the article for the continued decline in U.S. life expectancies are the same or similar to the factors listed above.

NPR‘Live free and die?’ The sad state of U.S. life expectancy

Why should retirees care about the life expectancies reported here if these measures don’t predict your own lifespan? Life expectancy calculations indicate the general well-being of the entire population in your area. While the living conditions in your area can influence your own lifespan and quality of life, retirees should focus on their remaining life expectancy given their age. They should also consider how the factors listed above that influence life expectancies in the population might apply to them.

You can obtain customized estimates of your remaining life expectancy at the Actuaries Longevity Illustrator. Part of your planning for retirement is understanding how long you an an individual might live, instead of relying on generalized information about larger populations you see in the media.

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IRS Dirty Dozen Campaign Warns Taxpayers To Avoid Offer In Compromise ‘Mills’



Owing taxes can be stressful. Unfortunately, the actions of some companies can make it worse. As part of its “Dirty Dozen” campaign, the IRS has renewed a warning about so-called Offer in Compromise “mills” that often mislead taxpayers into believing they can settle a tax debt for pennies on the dollar—while the companies collective excessive fees.

Dirty Dozen

The “Dirty Dozen” is an annual list of common scams taxpayers may encounter. Many of these schemes peak during tax filing season as people prepare their returns or hire someone to help with their taxes. The schemes put taxpayers and tax professionals at risk of losing money, personal information, data, and more.

(You can read about other schemes on the list this year—including aggressive ERC grabs here, phishing/smishing scams here and charitable ploys here.)

Tax Debt Resolution Schemes

“Too often, we see some unscrupulous promoters mislead taxpayers into thinking they can magically get rid of a tax debt,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.

“This is a legitimate IRS program, but there are specific requirements for people to qualify. People desperate for help can make a costly mistake if they clearly don’t qualify for the program. Before using an aggressive promoter, we encourage people to review readily available IRS resources to help resolve a tax debt on their own without facing hefty fees.”


Offers In Compromise

Legitimate is a key word. Offers in Compromise are an important program to help people who can’t pay to settle their federal tax debts. But, as the IRS notes, these “mills” can aggressively promote Offers in Compromise—OIC—in misleading ways to people who don’t meet the qualifications, frequently costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

An OIC allows you to resolve your tax obligations for less than the total amount you owe. You generally submit an OIC because you don’t believe you owe the tax, you can’t pay the tax, or
 exceptional circumstances exist.

Because of the nature of the OIC—and the dollars involved—the process can be time-consuming. It can also be confusing for taxpayers who may not have a complete grasp on their finances.

First, you must complete a detailed application, Form 656, Offer in Compromise. You must also submit Form 433-A, Collection Information Statement for Wage Earners and Self-Employed Individuals, or Form 433-B, Collection Information Statement for Businesses, with supporting documentation (generally, bank and brokerage statements and proof of expenses).

You’ll also need to submit a non-refundable fee of $205 and payment made in good faith. The payment is typically 20% of the offer amount for a lump sum cash offer or the first month’s payment for those made over time. Generally, initial payments will not be returned but will be applied to your tax debt if your offer is not accepted. Payments and fees may be waived if the OIC is submitted based solely on the premise that you do not owe the tax or if your total monthly income falls at or below income levels based on the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) poverty guidelines.

The IRS will examine your application and decide whether to accept it based on many things, including the total amount due and the time remaining to collect under the statute of limitations. The IRS will also review your income—including future earnings and accounts receivables—and your reasonable expenses, as determined by their formula. The IRS will also consider the amount of equity you have in assets that you own—this would include real property, personal property (like automobiles), and bank accounts.


Before your offer can be considered, you must be compliant. That means you must have filed all your tax returns and paid off any liabilities not subject to the OIC. After you submit your offer, you must continue to timely file your tax returns, and pay all required tax, including estimated tax payments. If you don’t, the IRS will return your offer.

Additionally, you cannot currently be in an open bankruptcy proceeding, and you must resolve any open audit or outstanding innocent spouse claim issues before you submit an offer.


You can probably tell—it’s a lot to consider. You may want representation. A tax professional can help marshal you through the process and offer practical guidance, while communicating what fees could look like.

By contrast, according to the IRS, an OIC “mill” will usually make outlandish claims, frequently in radio and TV ads, about how they can settle a person’s tax debt for cheap. Also telling: the fees tend to be significant in exchange for very little work.

Those mills also knowingly advise indebted taxpayers to file an OIC application even though the promoters know the person will not qualify, costing taxpayers money and time. You can check your eligibility for free using the IRS’s Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool.

“Pennies On A Dollar”

What about those promises that taxpayers can routinely settle for pennies on a dollar? Not true. Generally, the IRS will not accept an offer if they believe you can pay your tax debt in full through an installment agreement or equity in assets, including your home. That’s why the IRS tends to reject a majority of OICs that are submitted. The acceptance rate is less than 1 in 3, according to the 2021 Data Book.

The IRS will generally approve an OIC when the amount offered represents the best opportunity for the IRS to collect the debt. It’s true that there’s a formula that the IRS uses to figure out how much they think they can collect from you. But there is some wiggle room to account for special circumstances, including a loss of income or a medical condition. It’s worth noting those are the exceptions, not the rule.


While submitting an OIC may keep the IRS from calling you, it doesn’t stop all collections activities—don’t believe companies that suggest that submitting an OIC will make your tax debt disappear. Penalties and interest will continue to accrue on your outstanding tax liability. Additionally, the IRS may keep your tax refund, including interest, through the date the IRS accepts your OIC.

You may also be liened. In most cases, the IRS will file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien to protect their interests, and the lien will generally stay in place until your tax obligation is satisfied.

Be Skeptical

An OIC is a serious effort to resolve tax debt and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Be skeptical—if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. If you’re considering an OIC, hire a competent tax professional who understands the rules and is willing to level with you about your chances of being successful—including other options. Don’t fall into a trap that can make your situation worse.

MORE FROM FORBESIRS Urges Those Hoping To Help To Beware Of Scammers Using Fake Charities

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