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Preventing Employee Burnout

For many employees, the holidays can be stressful both at home and at work. While having a negative relationship with a direct supervisor is the leading cause of disengagement, there is a close second that has been becoming more prominent over the past few years: employee burnout. Thanks to long hours, higher expectations, and cost of living that is rising at a faster rate than the minimum wage, and employees are left feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and underpaid. So what is causing this burnout, and most importantly, how can we prevent it?

Contributing Factors to Employee Burnout

Thanks to Gallup Workplace’s research into the causes, we see some alarming trends. Burned-out employees are those who feel they are overworked, with little connection and sense of purpose to show for it. According to Gallup, almost a quarter of employees experience burnout at work “very often or always.” Even more alarming, 67% of employees feel burned out at least sometimes! While the workload may seem like the apparent reason for experiencing burnout, it is not the only reason. In their 2018 study, Gallup Workplace found these factors show the highest correlation with employees reporting burnout:

  1. Unfair treatment at work
  2. Unmanageable workload
  3. Lack of role clarity
  4. Lack of communication and support from their manager
  5. Unreasonable time pressure

While these five factors may be the leading contributors to employee burnout, it’s important to remember that simple changes in managerial style and organizational culture can make great strides in preventing burnout. Here are simple ways in which your managers and your organization can reduce and even prevent employee burnout.

What Managers Can Do to Help

Because employee burnout is highly correlated to one’s relationship to his/her direct supervisor, training managers on how to prevent burnout and reverse it, if needed, is vital. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Listen to work-related problems. 
    It’s truly as simple as that. Allowing your team to share work-related problems creates a sense of trust and open communication. It may also help to alert you to situational issues that may require your assistance. Being aware of issues that your employees face helps you to stay connected to the front lines, and provide back up as needed.
  2. Encourage teamwork.
    Encouraging teamwork among your employees not only creates a sense of working towards a common goal but also helps to promote friendships in your workplace. Since employees who have close friends at work show nearly double the rate of engagement (63%) as those employees who did not report having a close friend (29%), encouraging teamwork in your direct reports can genuinely prevent and even reverse burnout!
  3. Make everyone’s opinion count.
    Create an open-door policy and allow your employees to share their opinions freely. When people feel as though their thoughts don’t matter, it can increase turnover and burnout. Not only do you have more employees who are leaving prematurely, but also an increased number of team members who are not performing at their highest level due to burnout. Make sure to consider and value everyone’s opinion.
  4. Make work purposeful.
    Gallup recently found that individuals reported significantly higher levels of wellbeing in their life when they had high levels of purpose in their work. It is vital for your employees to feel a sense of purpose in what they do. Try to make connections between everyday work and the long term good that comes from it in whatever way you can – through human interest stories in your newsletter, pictures of customers smiling while holding your product, or sharing out positive reviews online from clients.
  5. Focus on strengths-based feedback and development. 
    When reviewing performance standards and goals with your employees, take into consideration the things they feel are strengths for them. Ask about favorite job duties and anything they hate doing. Then consider how you can offer them opportunities to grow and develop their skillset in the things they enjoy doing, as well as spend less time on projects that aren’t well suited for them.

What the Organization Can Do to Help

  1. Place performance expectations and metrics within the employees’ control.
    One of the best ways to place metrics within an employee’s control is by asking them to set their own monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. By creating the goals themselves, they are much more likely to feel committed to achieving them and setting their benchmarks. Ask managers and supervisors to review these goals with their team members to make sure they are realistic and achievable.
  2. Reduce noise and interruptions.
    Not providing your employees with adequate time to concentrate on their projects, or overloading their schedule with additional small projects leads to burnout. Juggling many non-correlating projects can be tough, and working in an environment in which there are frequent noisy interruptions or inadequate space for concentration will leave your employees frustrated. Provide areas that are dedicated to working and comfortable for your employees to perform at their highest level.
  3. Design jobs to allow for autonomy.
    With over 60% of organizations offering employees the opportunity to work from home (and growing!), autonomy is not only a happy bonus but an absolute requirement for many individuals today. Autonomy gives your employees the ability to create and manage themselves in a way that allows them to cater to their personality and concentration style. Organizations may provide general guidelines or prioritization while still giving employees autonomy to perform their work in a manner best for them.


 To see the full list of ways in which your organization can help decrease employee burnout, check out this study from Gallup. Let us know how you reduce employee burnout and drop us a comment below about what you would like to see written next!

Interested in improving your workplace culture to prevent employee burnout? We’re here to help. Contact us to get started.


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