Edition 2020

Photo description: Students waiting for their teacher outside the classroom.

Which jobs have the highest levels of mental fatigue?

In 2019, mental fatigue complaintsnoot1 caused by work (burn-out complaints) occurred most frequently among employees with a pedagogical profession, such as teachers and educators, and people working in the care and welfare sectors. In both 2018 and 2019, 17 percent of all employees reported mental fatigue complaints. This was still 15 percent in 2015. This is evident from the Netherlands Working Conditions Survey (NEA), conducted jointly by CBS and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).

14%transportand logistics14%managerial13%agricultural17%technical17%governance, securityand legal17%ITWhich jobs have the highest levels of mental fatigue?
20%care and welfare24%teaching15%services15%commercial18%creative andlinguistic16%business andadministrative

In this survey, employees answer questions about the conditions under which they work. For example, people are asked about mental fatigue complaints related to work. These can manifest themselves as feelings of emptiness at the end of the working day, or feelings of fatigue on being faced with work.

Nearly a quarter of employees working in education (24 percent) reported feeling mentally fatigued at least a couple of times a month in 2019. For employees in care and welfare professions, the figure was 20 percent. Workers in agricultural occupations suffered the least from mental fatigue due to work (13 percent).

More fatigue complaints associated with a high workload and low level of independence on the job

The survey figures show that mental fatigue due to work is more common among employees who generally experience a high workload. This is to say they are regularly required to work very fast, very long hours or extra hard.

It turns out that the amount of autonomy employees have, i.e. how much they have to say about the way they work, is decisive. Employees who experience a high workload but are able to (co-)decide on how the work is carried out and the order and speed in which the work has to be done, as well as on leave and working hours, report mental fatigue complaints less often than employees who do not have this level of autonomy (in 2019, 22 percent and 37 percent, respectively). Employees with a lot of autonomy and a low workload suffer the least from mental fatigue complaints (in 2019 this was 8 percent).

Work-related mental fatigue, 2019 (% several or more times a month)
Share of employees
Low level of autonomy .
High workload 37
Low workload 12
High level of autonomy .
High workload 22
Low workload 8

Little autonomy and high workload in the education sector

The fact that autonomy, work pressure and mental fatigue complaints are interrelated becomes apparent when professions are compared. Managers experienced the highest workload in 2019, but also had the most autonomy. The percentage of managers with mental fatigue complaints was one of the lowest among all employees. Workers in the transport and logistics professions also report relatively few mental fatigue complaints.

While they have little autonomy, they do not experience a high workload. Both a high workload and a low degree of autonomy are common in education and in care and welfare professions.

The service professions are an exception. This sector is characterised by both a high workload and little autonomy, yet relatively few employees reported mental fatigue complaints in 2019. This can in part be explained by the fact that these professions, including the hospitality industry, are staffed by a relatively large number of young people.

Employee autonomy, workload and work-related mental fatigue, 2019 (% )
Low level of autonomy High workload Mental fatigue symptoms several or more times a month
All occupations 43 38 17
. . .
Educational occupations 64 46 24
Care and welfare 58 44 20
Creative and linguistic
29 40 18
Public administration, security
and justice
39 35 17
ICT 17 31 17
Technical occupations 38 32 17
Business economics and
28 36 16
Commercial occupations 44 35 15
Service-oriented occupations 59 40 15
Transport and
69 29 14
Managers 11 55 14
Agricultural occupations 50 30 13

The questions


Work-related mental fatigue

Mental fatigue due to work is measured based on the following statements:

  • I feel emotionally exhausted by my work.
  • At the end of a working day, I feel empty.
  • I feel tired when I get up in the morning at the thought of starting work.
  • It takes a lot out of me to work with people all day long.
  • I feel completely exhausted by my work.

The possible responses are: never, several times a year, monthly, several times a month, weekly, several times a week, or every day. If someone’s average response to these statements is several times a month or more frequently, this person’s contribution is viewed as representing mental fatigue caused by work.


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Explanation of symbols

Explanation of symbols
Symbol Explanation
Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

About CBS

CBS responds to developments in Dutch society by providing statistical information as facts that matter, and communicates on these facts with the outside world. In doing so, CBS offers insights into current developments in society and helps answer policy questions. Research at CBS is focused on broad trends in society and how these are interrelated.

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Concept & image editing

Irene van Kuik


Anne Blaak

Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Kees Groenenboom

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Elma Wobma

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Gabriëlle de Vet

Frans Dinnissen

Final editing

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

We thank all other colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in Numbers.