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One key way to prevent employee burnout? Addressing toxic clients

Tired, deflated, hanging by a thread: These are just a few keywords your average American worker might use to describe themself these days. And who can blame them, as we head into year three of the pandemic? Compared with the “before times,” remote employees are working longer hours, attending more meetings, and juggling more communication channels. According to Zendesk, more than a quarter of working American adults say they now suffer from some form of depression, and nearly 60% report negative effects of workplace-related stress.

So, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when 47.4 million Americans resigned from their jobs last year—with another 52% eyeballing the exit. To be sure, myriad factors have contributed to this mass exodus, but it’s worth noting that toxic culture is the top predictor of voluntary turnover. In fact, when compared with salary, toxic cultures are 10.4 times more likely to push an employee out the door, according to the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Noxious work environments don’t discriminate by industry, but client-facing agencies are one particular company that have become fertile ground for culture-driven employee burnout. We don’t have to look far to see why: Agencies are in the business of keeping clients happy, so client relationships often take priority over employees’ mental health and job satisfaction. But trying to keep every client satisfied all the time is a fool’s errand, and when clients are unreasonable or disrespectful—and that behavior goes unchecked—it puts undue strain on the employee-employer relationship.

So, when we look at how to prevent employee burnout, we must also talk about how to deal with toxic clients. Try a few of these tips.

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