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Employee Burnout: Understanding and Tackling It

6 min read
Last Updated on 25 February, 2021
Employee Burnout: Understanding and Tackling It

When a new employee joins in, you might have seen how enthusiastic and full of energy they are at first. But as time passes by, they become part of that unproductive plague, or a situation comes when your employees feel emotionally wasted and are not able to pull off their job?

If you have faced such situations then you are not the only one. Being unproductive, lacking composure, lacking focus are a few symptoms that your employees might be facing which are a part of common epidemic spreading thorughout the industry. That widespread epidemic called burnout. And your once energetic and productive employees are becoming victims of burnout.

And it is bad news for any organization.

What is Employee Burnout?

Employee burnout happens when your once productive employees become exhausted both physically and mentally in the workplace. It is thought of as a psychological process and happens due to a prolonged period of stress or excessive work hours. Signs of burnout include the feeling of emptiness, frustration and exhaustion. Few of the other symptoms of burnout include getting irritated, cynicism, depression, sickness and mistakes related to tasks.

A recent Gallup survey found that out of 7500 employees 23% of them reported feeling burned out.

Also, 63% of employees are more likely to call in for sick day leaves if they are facing burnout at work or are facing personal issues. And even if they do not call in for leaves, their performance is likely to reduce by 13%. (Gallup)

These numbers cover huge number of employees and it is a serious matter that needs to have a quick solution. If this is an issue that doesn’t concern you or your organization then you need to reconsider it because it is going to affect your company in its growth.

But before delving into the ways on how to tackle them, let us have a look at why employee burnout happens.

Reasons behind employee burnout:

1. The pressure at Work: I need some space!

Jobs with an overwhelming workload can create unwanted pressure on your employees. Despite your best intentions to make your employees more productive somehow you might end up on the wrong side. An unwanted flip side where you turn out to be a bad boss.

Your employees might be working more than their limits hence increasing their burnout levels at work. This starts to affect them both mentally and physically which leaves them frustrated. Hence, impeding your employee's work and your organizational goals. And triggering the symptoms of burnout sooner.

2. Unfair treatment: Hey, where is my share?

Unfair treatment at work is another reason that leads to burnout. Unfair treatment includes bias, favoritism, mistreatment, unfair policies and the list goes on.

This not only hampers the relationship between employees and employers but it also affects an employee psychologically. This often leads to a lack of satisfaction at work and when there is no real satisfaction, employees succumb to high levels of burnout and lose motivation to work. And when such situations arise, employee absenteeism increases or an employee leaves their job for their own good.

3. Lack of specific role: What? Why? Where?

Employees will perform at their peak when they are given a straight forward and specific job description. Without any proper direction and instruction, your employees are likely to be confused in terms of what they need to do. This decreases work rate and your employees are not being able to complete their assigned task.

In return, this gives rise to ambiguity in workplace impeding productivity and affecting employee morale. Hence, increasing the rate of burnout in your organization.

4. Lack of support: I need back up!

For your employees to be at their best, communication is important between you and your employees. With proper communication, it becomes easy for your employees to open up to you and come forward with problems without any fear. This shows that they are confident about their manager who will back them up no matter what happens.

In contrast, if employees have a confronting manager in the work environment then there are higher chances that they will keep their problems contained within themselves. When this happens employees will have nowhere to go to open up with their problems and they might fall into depression. Thus, increasing the chances of employee burnout.

5. Time pressure: Tick-Tock!

Time constraint is another one of the reasons that catalysts employee burnout. When employees have a limited amount of time to complete their task or a project, it becomes difficult for them to maintain the quality of the work. And when this happens employees might not feel satisfied, leading to frustration. This, in turn, will give rise to a significant number of burned-out employees in your workplace.

Tackling employee burnout:

Employee burnout is not inevitable. You can reduce burnout in your organization, but you should know how to tackle it. Below is a list of how you can prevent burnout and tackle it.

1. Discussing it out: The one-on-one conference!

When you see your employees not being their usual self, like a sudden change of attitude or performance, something might be wrong with them. If your employees are going through such phases all of a sudden they might be facing burnout. And to solve this issue, you need to sit with them and discuss it out.

Discuss what is bothering them and try to dig in the issues that they are facing. Once they open up with you, you should assist them in solving the problem in every manner you can. By doing so, you will see a decrease in burnout rates in your organization and your employees will be less bothered by problems.

2. Maintaining the balance: The see-saw game!

As a manager, you would like your workforce to be productive and more driven towards the organization's values. When your employees are more enthusiastic about their job then they are less likely to fall prey to burnout.

This can be achieved when you treat everyone equally and focus more on being a manager who can back their employees when they commit a mistake. This will boost their confidence and morale in the workplace and reduce pressure in a significant manner. Also, this will help build a bridge of trust among the employers and employees.

3. Providing autonomy: Control so good!

Autonomy gives your employees the opportunity to be more flexible and have control over their work. When you give your employees the choice to choose their work and the time they’ll need to complete it, you will be able to reduce high levels of burnout.

It increases employee engagement and also boosts confidence, but do keep in mind that too much autonomy can be ambiguous. To provide a good work environment that gives your employees autonomy, you need to first plan out a good autonomous schedule that will benefit both the employees and the organizational values.

4. Showing appreciation: A pat on the back!

We know how jobs can be at times. It can be frustrating, drains you mentally and physically when the heavy workload is assigned to your employees. But when you really appreciate your employees for a job which was executed well, they feel more valued in the organization. They feel that all their hard work has really paid off.

You can show appreciation by giving them some time off or providing them with food coupons for their whole family and much more. This will ease up the pressure which they took from the previous project eventually decreasing the burnout levels. And it also helps them to start fresh in their new project.

5. Busting the stress: Let's kill it!

Stress has always been plaguing organizations and is something that is inevitable. It is one of the main reasons for burnouts. But you can reduce stress at your workplace by-

  • Providing clearer goals and objectives to your employees about their jobs.
  • Letting your employees have a break in between their work so that they can get loads of fresh air.
  • Allowing them to resort to music to boost their concentration.
  • Providing them with adequate training to enhance their skills.
  • Taking the team members out for lunch once every month.
  • Dealing with mental health problems with programs that tackle it.
  • Abolishing the rule of working for long hours or doing overtime.

These are just a few examples but you can find out many innovative ways to reduce burnout and stress.

Burnout the problem:

When you are burned out, your capacity to perform diminishes slowly and this goes for your employees as well. Employee burnout is a serious issue that needs to be diagnosed early so that it becomes easy for you to solve it.

You need to create an environment that is supportive and where everyone can flourish. It is beneficial for your employees in the long run and significantly helps the issue of burnout in organizations.

With that being said, I hope you have a culture that emphasises more on the good and positive things within the organization.

Mrinmoy Rabha is a content writer and digital marketer at Vantage Circle. He is an avid follower of football and passionate about singing. For any related queries, contact