How To Avoid Employee Burnout

Posted by Neil Curry on October 21, 2015

How To Avoid Employee Burnout

The success of many a company is being able to respond effectively to client requests and adapt quickly to changes in market demands. We’ve moved into a time where technology allows us to communicate in various mediums, both inside and outside of work, across time zones. This often makes work interesting and varied. However, as these competitive demands increase, many companies can become too consumed in addressing these immediate needs and fail to recognise when employees are unable to cope with the work- loads put upon them. This can result in employee burnout.

Physical health is taken seriously, and rightly so. Your back hurts at your desk, you have a desk assessment. You twist your ankle, you have support from your colleagues. But when we talk about the mental wellbeing and health of an individual, it just doesn’t isn’t reacted to in the same way.

It’s believed that mental health problems now account for 38% of working days lost. If this figure was a result of physical injuries at work, something drastic would be done immediately. The CIPD ran a recent 2015 survey that found that 41% of organisations are seeing an increase in mental health problems.

Why Isn’t More Done

Not everyone can recognise the signs, either in themselves or others. And quite often it takes an employee to burnout for the realisation of the severity to be acknowledged.  

Employees may not feel comfortable to speak up, especially when the culture is not an open one, and flagging up when things are becoming too much is seen as a weakness.

What to Look Out For

Here are some signs that you may recognise in yourself and others

  • Increased sick rate
  • Lateness
  • A lack of motivation
  • Loss of sleep
  • Inability to prioritise personal time over work time
  • A reduction in the quality of work

Some may question whether anything should be done. This is wrong. A glance at some of the symptoms above quickly point out that employee engagement, productivity and retention can all be adversely affected.

What to Do


Start by talking, either to colleagues or friends. In the workplace this doesn’t have to be via an expensive employee survey; it could be incorporated into appraisals or part of a group discussion over coffee. And have this time protected- ban mobiles & emails and have it as a recurring activity. If you don’t feel that people can speak freely when managers are present, don’t invite them- have an impartial mediator there to minute what’s said, anonymously if needed. But don’t forget to have this approach for managers too; they’re just as susceptible to burnout.

Say No

There’s nothing wrong with saying no or challenging what’s being asked of you, especially if it’s not part of your job role. Breeding a culture where no is ok will empower your employees to question the status quo.

Be Flexible

Providing flexibility in hours of work and where those hours are worked can mean a lot to employees and will introduce the important work/life balance.

Understanding job roles

Comparing what is expected of an employee as part of their job and what they’re being asked to do over and above that is no bad thing. It can highlight where others are not being productive and people are being asked to pick up the slack. It may also address gaps in the workforce. Without doing this, employees can take on more and more, adding to their stress and resulting in their eventual burnout.

Taking Time Off

This doesn’t have to be a holiday. Encouraging employees to take time for themselves, such as definite lunch break or a specific time when they should stop checking emails when they’ve left work can all help to introduce vital down time.


eBook: Talent Management For Dummies

Get Talent Management for Dummies and discover the top tips to win the battle for talent.

Download eBook >>