In many ways, 2020 was a long lesson in how to navigate a wide range of emotions and realities. That tug-of-war extended into employees’ work experience. In what seems to capture the topsy-turvy state of work life since the pandemic hit, employee happiness at work rose in 2020—all while employee burnout levels continue to see record highs.

According to Glint’s latest Employee Well-Being Report, employee happiness at work rose 5.4% in December 2020 as compared to December 2019. Meanwhile, employee burnout rose this past fall by nearly 4%, after previously having reached a two-year high in August 2020.

How is this possible? How can employees feel happy and burned out at the same time?

“It’s important to remember we’re talking about people’s happiness at work,” Glint People Scientist Jaime Gonzales says. “While chaos reigned in the outside world, people asked themselves, ‘Where can I find support, focus, and even refuge?’ For many, that place was work.”

Burnout affects women and men differently

Also in this edition of the Employee Well-Being Report is the finding that, when looking at precursors to burnout, women feel a heavier burden from their workload than men.

Overall: Women cited experiencing overwhelming workload 20% more frequently than men.

In smaller organizations (those with up to 1,000 employees): Women cited experiencing overwhelming workload 28% more frequently than men.

At the leadership levels (manager and higher): Women cited experiencing overwhelming workload 41% more frequently than men.

How can HR leaders address this issue?

“The solution to feelings of overwhelming workload happens at the local level and isn’t necessarily guided by an employee’s gender,” Glint People Scientist Amy Lavoie says. “Managers can create a path forward for all employees—not just women—by candidly talking about well-being, helping prioritize tasks, and clearing barriers.”

Check out more insights from the latest Employee Well-Being Report, including how different industries are faring on employee happiness and burnout.