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Extinguishing Employee Burnout in the Workplace

Dale Newstead ·

Extinguishing Employee Burnout in the Workplace
Photo by Tim Gouw

According to CareerBuilder, 61% of employees are burnt out from their job.

CNBC reports that job burnout accounts for up to $190 billion in health-care spending each year and is linked to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol, and even early death.

Some of the more commonly cited reasons for burnout at the workplace are unfair treatment, unreasonable deadlines, unmanageable workload, lack of management support, and the added stress from having to respond to emails and texts during off hours.

Of course, there's a delicate balance as an employer. In order to thrive, there are demands that must be placed upon your team. Plus, some anxiety is a good thing. Great employees prosper when they're truly challenged and jettisoned from their comfort zones.

Also, if you're too easy-going as a leader, even great performers could lose motivation to deliver.

Unfortunately, many employers go too far with their expectations — letting their drive to produce turn them into tyrants. What these leaders fail to realize, is grinding employees into a nub is going to hurt overall productivity. They also sometimes forget that employees are people who need to regroup.

Though, it's not just hardnosed employers whose team succumbs to burnout. It can happen to anyone without the right practices in place.

In our blog, we're going to examine ways for HR leaders, such as yourself, to combat employee burnout, while maintaining the high expectations that make your business shine.

The Brunt of Burnout

To further illustrate how burning out employees is entirely detrimental, we just wanted to list some of the ways it will directly hurt your business.

An employee's attitude will be one of the first things to waiver. It's fairly simple to understand. When someone is over-burdened and dissatisfied, it's natural for them to start feeling resentful.

Suddenly, you'll be dealing with a malcontent, or even worse, a team of malcontents constantly voicing their displeasure, creating a very negative atmosphere. This, of course, is an HR department's worst nightmare.

Wasted time is another symptom of burnout. Instead of focusing on tasks, you'll find disinterested employees lurking their own social media and sending personal texts.

There's also a matter of increased turnover rates. If you instill a mentality in the workplace that's conducive to burnout, people are going to leave. It's hard to reach optimal productivity when you're constantly in a state of flux and training new hires.

There are many other negative side-effects and symptoms associated with employee burnout — so, you really need to think about doing what you can to prevent it.

Have Open-Door Policy

Considering there's a fine line between honest hard work and burnout, open communication is key in preventing employees from falling apart.

Encourage your team to discuss their feelings with you. An "off the record" approach where they can really let loose could be valuable, for example. It can be difficult always maintaining a veneer of professionalism. Thus, it might be fruitful to let employees shoot from the hip.

Since your employees are the ones experience the rigors of workplace struggles, they can provide keen insights. You simply need to listen.

That doesn't mean you have to acquiesce to every suggestion. But a simple venting session can both help you adjust leadership methods while relieving a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety for your staff.

Accurate Job Descriptions

You could be the most understanding employer who's in tune with your team's needs, but if somebody is forced into tasks outside of their skill set, they're going to burn out.

It starts at the very beginning. A proper job description with an accurate depiction of the tasks.

It may sound redundant, but inaccurate job descriptions are more prevalent than you'd think. Also, if roles aren't distinctly defined in descriptions, an employee is far more likely to feel over-extended because they're wasting hours working on tasks far beyond their grasp.

When a team member is thrown into tasks well outside of their purview, they're going to become stressed. This stress leads to burnout.

Promoting Work-Life Balance

It's not uncommon to want employees thinking about your business — and how to improve it — all of the time.

But the real world isn't Mad Men. And regular 18-hour shifts aren't necessarily what you need to drive employee production. Your staff has family, friends, and interests that contribute to their overall health and productivity as individuals.

As a result, there are many companies nowadays that don't allow employees to stay past their 9-5 shift-only doling out enough work to fit the confines of those hours.

What it really comes down to, however, is being intuitive. It's paramount for HR and team leads to monitor whether or not your employee is striking an ideal work-life balance.

Don't think you need to worry about work-life balance in your business? Well, according to Small Business Trends, 66% of full-time employees say they don't have a good work-life balance. This led to 41% of workplaces claiming high turnover and burnout/fatigue.

So, no matter how great you think your company is, the work-life balance of employees is always worth assessing.

Pushing Teamwork

Co-worker relationships can provide the emotional support necessary to prevent burnout. If individuals don't have the support of their team, they could crumble under pressure. Think about it, one employee is far more likely to burn out if the weight of assignment rests solely on their shoulders.

Furthermore, according to Globoforce, 74% of surveyed employees who hadn't celebrated accomplishments with their co-workers said they are more likely to leave their jobs.

Foster colleague relationships is a must when nullifying burnout in the workplace.


Employee burnout can really hurt a business's overall productivity.

The statistics are truly staggering when considering the number of people citing burnout at their current job, whether it's due to factors such as poor communication, vague job descriptions, uneven work-life balance, or a lack of teamwork.

Taking strikes to ensure company culture isn't a direct catalyst to employee burnout takes immense devotion, but it's not impossible.

It's just a matter of watching out for the right things and utilizing the correct techniques. Then, your employees will be more inclined to produce because they'll feel refreshed, rewarded, and always ready to put their best foot forward.


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