Meeting Mentor Magazine

June 2024

Survey: Anxiety, Exhaustion and Burnout on the Rise

The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) has been conducting regular Dashboard Surveys throughout the pandemic to monitor the latest industry issues and concerns. The most recent survey, conducted in April, centered on wellbeing and mental health after more than two years of navigating all the crazy that COVID has brought to bear on the meetings and events industry.

In a result that likely surprised no one, more than a third of the 399 planners surveyed said they were “anxious about the future” or “exhausted and burned out.” The 188 suppliers were in the same leaky mental health boat, though they were a bit more anxious about the future (12%, compared to planners’ 8%) and less exhausted and burned out (19%, compared to 28% for planners).

Among planners, burnout played out in feeling energy-depleted or exhausted for 88%, and 78% said they felt increased mental distance from, or more negativity and cynicism about, their job. Almost half said they felt burnout was reducing their professional efficiency. Suppliers followed roughly the same trajectory, though they trended slightly lower on each of these metrics than planners.

So what’s causing all this anxiety and burnout? Generally, the lack of work/life balance was the biggest stressor for planners (74%) and suppliers (68%). Not surprisingly for a profession that famous for its penchant toward control, pandemic uncertainties earned a top spot on the list of burnout contributors, with 62% of planners and 53% of suppliers naming it as their top issue. Being short-staffed was also at the top of the list, with 59% of planners and 53% of suppliers saying it’s their biggest anxiety-producer. Those short-staffed suppliers also are stressing planners out, with 57% saying working with partners who are short-staffed is contributing to their burnout. External events, such as the war in Ukraine, climate change, inflation and supply chain woes, also are an issue for more than half of both suppliers and planners.

While it wasn’t a big stressor for suppliers, 41% of planners said a big factor for them is designing an event format — hybrid, in-person or fully digital — that both engages participants and doesn’t obliterate the bottom line. They also appeared to worry more about endangering others through personal contact or by organizing or attending meetings, though it was only a big concern for 19% of planners. Dealing with hybrid work environments and/or returning to in-office work also is stressing out 36% of planners, while just 21% of suppliers said it was a main cause of concern for them.

Less than half of planners and suppliers said their employer offered mental health support iniatives to help them cope during the pandemic. Planners were fairly evenly split on whether or not they were adding content related to workplace mental health/work-life balance to their next meeting agenda, with 41% saying they were and 47% saying they didn’t plan to add those types of content.

For those who were changing the design of their in-person events from pre-COVID to include more mental health and wellbeing iniatives, the most popular, at 48%, was adding opportunities for activity and physical movement. Making more time for networking was close behind at 47%, followed by offering healthier food and beverage options (43%), making more white space in the program to accommodate longer and/or more frequent breaks, and adding more outdoor activities. More than a quarter said they added guided breathing and/or meditation sessions.

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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