Preventing and Reducing Burnout
Leah Hahn avatar
Written by Leah Hahn
Updated over a week ago

What is Work-Related Burnout?

A state where a person’s mental, physical, and emotional resources are depleted resulting in feelings of exhaustion, apathy, or powerlessness at work.

What are the signs that an employee may be suffering from Burnout?

  • Seeming anxious, depressed, negative, or easily irritated

  • Lack of concentration or ability to focus

  • Having unproductive work - not getting ahead despite the effort, missing deadlines, having poor quality/errors, etc.

  • Becoming isolated from colleagues

What can be the impact on your business?

  • Poor workplace morale

  • Increased absenteeism and/or higher health care costs

  • Higher turnover

  • Inability to hit targets or goals

  • Employees feeling “trapped” and unable to make progress on new or growth initiatives

  • Receiving negative social media postings

What are the main causes?

  • Impact of other life events that may overwhelm a person (family, finances, job security, health issues, etc.)

  • Unmanageable workload creating work-life imbalance

  • Inadequate communication and support from manager

  • Lack of role clarity

  • Don’t see a path on how current effort will help fulfill long term goals

  • Not feeling connected to company purpose

Burnout Resources

Burnout Discussion


Stress and Defensive

Behaviors Worksheet


Podcast Episode

What should you do to address Burnout?

Provide proper balance for employees

  • Have clearly defined goals that are achievable within regular work hours.

  • Create a climate where regular time off is valued so that employees can refresh and be at their best.

  • Support each employee in having a sustainable workload.

  • Embrace flexible work styles that encourage a daily balance, within defined parameters.

  • Make sure processes are efficient and smooth. Involve employees in reviewing these.

  • Provide “time management” training to help employees better manage their time.

  • Have the manager set a good example.

Build strong employee-manager relationships

  • Give managers training on leadership skills, especially “softer skills” through internal/external courses, personal coaching, cohort groups, etc.

  • Hold 1:1s every 1-2 weeks to review things going well, discuss areas of struggle, confirm priorities, celebrate accomplishments … and also cover workload and upcoming PTO plans.

  • Connect the dots. Communicate how employee’s daily tasks impact the success of the team, the goals of the company, the mission of customers, and the ability to “give back.”

  • Work with each employee to create a career path and help them set/achieve goals.

  • Let employees share opinions without repercussions. Create a safe space.

  • Show personal care and concern. Recognize accomplishments. Be an advocate for your employees.

Make sure roles are clear and employees set up for success

  • Make sure there are job descriptions with clear objectives/goals for all roles.

  • Re-confirm roles when the team is restructured, team members change, employees receive promotions, etc.

  • Help employees try new things to broaden their skills, provide variety, or help prepare for a future role.

  • Set milestones for work, so progress can be seen and recognition given when steps are completed.

  • Design smooth handoffs between departments/shifts.

  • Provide any training that is needed to do a job properly and efficiently.

Set proper expectations and boundaries

  • Develop company value statements and a code of conduct that are frequently discussed with all employees.

  • Be proactive in keeping employees informed on team/company changes and explain “the why.”

  • Allow employees some level of control over their own work. Avoid “micromanaging” and heavy “hovering.”

  • Have stated policies designed to promote fairness, including performance reviews, promotions, pay levels, work assignments, work hours, breaks, vacation time, holiday coverage, overtime, etc. Make sure all managers are trained on these and held accountable to apply equitably.

Create a culture of health, wellness, and optimism

  • Take signs of burnout seriously and consider it a company responsibility to address.

  • Provide wellness programs including an employee assistance program, healthy snacks, health-related speakers, etc.

  • Have a company-wide employee recognition program in place.

  • Provide training to managers on the ways to identify and address the signs of burnout.

  • Promote physical activity at work such as a walking group, company-sponsored team sports, health contests, etc.

  • Have defined company values that include a focus on appreciation, kindness, and gratitude.

Do Not …

  • Blame burnout on employees or other life events. Burnout is about your workplace and is your responsibility to address.

  • Set unrealistic standards on what can be accomplished.

  • Create long periods of stress for your employees.

  • Tolerate toxic employees and situations.

  • Diminish the concerns of others that may be different than your own.

  • Forget to offer employees thanks, encouragement, and recognition!

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