How to Avoid Employee Burnout


Employee burnout is a huge problem for any business. This can lead to lower productivity levels and a lower quality of overall work. You may be paying for that superstar you initially hired, but hardly getting the same value.

Why are employees feeling burnout?

The following features tend to cause more stress, taking more of a toll on workers:

  • Unclear Requirements:When it’s not clear to workers how to succeed, it’s harder for them to be confident, enjoy their work, and feel they’re doing an excellent job.

  • Impossible Requirements: Sometimes it’s just not possible to do a job as it’s explained. If a job’s responsibilities exceed the amount of time given to complete them properly, it’s not possible to do the job well.

  • High-Stress Times with No “Down” Times: Many jobs and industries have “crunch times”, where workers must work longer hours and handle a more intense workload for a time. It starts becoming problematic when “crunch time” occurs year-round and there’s no time for workers to recover.

  • Big Consequences for Failure: People make mistakes; it’s part of being human. However, when there are dire consequences to the occasional mistake, overall work experience becomes much more stressful.

  • Lack of Personal Control: Workers who feel restricted and unable to exercise personal control over their environment and daily decisions tend to be at greater risk for burnout.

  • Lack of Recognition: It’s difficult to work hard and never be recognized for one’s accomplishments. Awards, public praise, bonuses and other tokens of appreciation and recognition of accomplishment go a long way in keeping morale high.

  • Poor Communication: When an employee has a problem, and can’t properly discuss it with someone who is able to help, this can lead to feelings of low personal control.

  • Insufficient Compensation: If demands are high and financial compensation is low, workers find themselves thinking, “They don’t pay me enough to deal with this!” And the burnout risk goes up.

  • Poor Leadership: Company leadership can go a long way toward preventing or contributing to burnout. For example, depending on the leadership, employees can feel recognized for their achievements and valued. Or they can feel unappreciated, unrecognized, unfairly treated etc.

Signs of employee burnout.

Here are a few signs to look for to recognize employee burnout.

Changes in behavior. Has your usually prompt employee suddenly been showing up late? Has he been acting irritable? Does he appear disheveled or unkempt? Does he isolate himself more? Changes in behavior are symptoms of an underlying problem. It may not always be burnout but should stay on the list of possible reasons.

Changes in attitude. You detect an edge that wasn’t there before. Or perhaps you hear the employee make snide comments under her breath. Or maybe you witness eye rolling during meetings. Again, changes in attitude don’t always indicate the employee is experiencing burnout at work. But if those problems are affecting the employee’s attitude at work, that’s still an issue

Changes in work quality. If your once responsible and responsive employee is suddenly delivering sloppy work, then something is up. You need to determine whether it’s due to employee burnout or some other reason.

Changes within the organization. When a company makes sudden and/or sweeping organizational changes (e.g. layoffs, buyouts, mergers), this will naturally cause some employees to experience fear, confusion, and stress—all of which can lead to burnout.

How can you prevent employee burnout?

Play fair. The key here is to avoid showing favoritism within the confines of the workplace. Be conscious of any personal friendships you develop with staffers and make sure those connections don’t influence your decision making when it comes to pay scales or work assignments.

Don’t overload people. We all know the super-achiever who is so good at what they do that they inadvertently become the “go-to person” when extra work pops up or emergencies occur. While this usually happens with the best of intentions, it can create problems in two ways: The overloaded person can become frustrated and fatigued, and their colleague can also feel frustrated if they haven’t been given a chance to shine.

Let employees do what they do best. Your job as boss is to make sure your employees love what they do (most of the time). Talk to your staff, get to know them, find out where their strengths lie (and don’t), and then, if you find some people “mismatched,” be bold enough to switch things up and move people into roles they are most passionate about. If you can’t move someone, then consider adjusting their current workload to reflect what they love to do. Or consider retraining. The costs incurred will be far outweighed by the highly engaged, loyal, and productive employee you end up with in the end.

Provide the right resources. “Do more with less!” has been the rallying cry of many an organization since the economy took a nose dive a few years ago. But by not providing the resources your teams need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, you are paving the way for unmotivated, unhappy, and burnt-out employees. Where does that “way” lead? The door. If you can’t give staff with what they need, scale back your expectations.

Create guidelines and set working hours – and stick to them! Research has found that workers who have control over their schedules report lower levels of stress, burnout, and higher job satisfaction.  If your industry requires your teams stick to set hours or work odd shifts, by putting processes like the above in place you will be well on your way toward reducing (or even avoiding altogether) the work-related stressors that lead to costly employee burnout.


To prevent employee burnout, you need to strategically and continuously put effort in keeping your employees satisfied. If your company is experiencing employee burnout frequently, contact us today for assistance.

Jim DePew
Vice President & Consultant
Mobile: (330) 631-9022
Office: (330) 915-2355 Ext: 103
Email: [email protected]