5 Tips for Dealing With Employee Burnout


February 11, 2022

How can you deal with employee burnout in your business?

Burnout is much more common than it might seem, and it could be causing great damage to your company’s success

Here are five tips for dealing with employee burnout.

Understand the Symptoms and Causes of Employee Burnout

Dealing with employee burnout is much easier if you can spot it early. It may seem like your workforce is doing well, but behind the scenes, there can be a lot more going on than you think.

The best way to deal with employee burnout is to be proactive and to do this you’ve got to understand its causes and symptoms. Once you’re aware of the warning signs, then you can take a close look at your business practices and see if they might lead to burnout.


So, what are some causes of employee burnout?

Common Causes of Burnout

When we think of employee burnout we tend to think of people who are overworked. This is certainly one of the leading causes of burnout, but it’s not the only one.

The World Health Organization (WHO)classifies employee burnout as work stress that escalates to the level of a chronic mental health issue, and it’s not just being overworked that can lead to this. There are lots of elements that contribute to an employee’s stress throughout the workday:

  • A lack of clear expectations

  • Low employee morale

  • Poor communication

  • Challenging relationships

Every job comes with some stress, but employee burnout is when that stress leads to physical or emotional exhaustion without release. It’s not always easy to spot when your employees are burned out. People tend to keep things to themselves, and sometimes there’s a stigma about coming to others for help.

Employee burnout also manifests in different ways for different people. You may notice your employees show a range of different symptoms:

  • Reduced motivation

  • Lower productivity levels

  • Lack of energy

  • Frequent mistakes

  • Recurring headaches

  • Often frustrated

  • Heightened levels of irritability

  • Suspicious of others’ motives

Recognizing these symptoms in a large workforce isn’t easy. To do so, you need to create awareness and encourage openness.

Evaluate Your Culture and Make Structural Changes

In some companies, employee burnout is baked into the culture.

You find some situations where employees compete to spend the most hours in the office just to show that they’re hard workers. This is counterproductive.

The number of hours someone spends at work doesn’t necessarily correlate to the amount or quality of work they do. Those hours do take a mental toll and bring people’s work/life balance further from a healthy point.

Again, it’s not just about the number of hours people work. It’s also about the structures you have in place.

For example, if employees report to multiple managers, each of which has different goals and expectations, it’s going to lead to a lot more stress. If you’re spending hours on a task, only for a different manager to tell you you’re doing it wrong, then naturally it’s going to be a cause of stress – if this is happening day in, day out, then it becomes too much.

Stress is a part of life, and it’s a part of work, but when people are trapped in structures that perpetuate stress, that’s when it can become overwhelming.

Part of dealing with employee burnout is putting the right systems in place and this all starts with your culture. Look at what your business culture is saying to your employees and ask if it’s contributing to employee burnout.

Offer Clarity in Your Communication

It’s difficult to feel like you’re doing a good job if you don’t really know what you’re supposed to be doing.

In many positions, it’s not actually clear exactly what’s expected of employees. They’re given a very rough job description, but then managers ask them to do things that aren’t part of their remit. Many employees are happy to do this, but it begins to feel like they’re pulled in all directions, and they lose sight of what they’re actually supposed to be doing.

This is compounded by a lack of feedback.

Problems can be quickly ironed out if there is open and honest communication. However, many companies don’t provide a platform for managers to give constructive feedback

Whether it’s at work or in our personal lives, poor communication is often a big part of our stress.

Clear, open communication is an excellent way of dealing with employee burnout. Start by making sure every employee has a crystal clear job description and put systems in place to ensure people get regular feedback and have a place to discuss their concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions: When Dealing with Employee Burnout

  • How are companies dealing with employee burnout? Many companies are looking at their company culture and seeing where they can make changes. Part of this is offering non-traditional mental health benefits such as access to therapists.

  • How do you reverse employee burnout? Employers can start to reverse employee burnout by identifying key stressors in the working environment. You can start dealing with employee burnout by facilitating open communication, setting clear expectations, and being conscious about scheduling.

  • How do I talk to my employees about burnout? Make it normal for employees to talk about stress and the challenges they face, offer support, and identify ways you can reduce the level of stress your employees are under at work.

  • How do you deal with an overworked employee? The best thing you can do is communicate. Work with the employee to identify key stressors and look at how you can manage their workload better.

Invest in Your Training and Support

Even your most talented employees need some training to get the most out of their jobs. If people feel like they don’t have the skills they need to do their job well, then it’s naturally going to be a source of anxiety.

Your employees should take responsibility for their own learning as well, but, it’s in your best interests to top up their skills and unlock new levels of performance. If an employee feels like they’re lacking knowledge, don’t understand what the company is trying to achieve, or can’t meet expectations, then they need help.

This can start with good onboarding, leading to regular training, and a place your employees can go for support.

All of these things might take some investment, but the damage employee burnout does to a business means they’re well worth the cost. With a great onboarding program, good training, and regular support, you’ll have more productive, happier employees, and that’s exactly what you want.

Be Conscious of Your Scheduling

People need a balance between work and personal time

The issue might not be that you’re expecting too much of your employees. Instead, they may be putting in the extra hours voluntarily. On the surface, this might seem like a great thing, but it comes with a significant downside.

Overtime hours, even if you’re not paying extra for them, have a lot of negative consequences

  • Less productivity

  • More mistakes

  • More accidents

The worst part is it's a cumulative process. The stress builds up and then it spills into those employees’ regular working hours.

Take Action: Monitor your Workforce's Hours

Employee burnout is a common phenomenon in modern businesses. The harmful effects of stress aren’t just limited to individuals, though, and employee burnout can severely harm the performance of an entire business.

It’s important to identify when your employees are suffering from burnout and take action to protect against it.

Make sure you’re dealing with employee burnout by monitoring your workforce’s hours using a solution like PayClock employee time clock system, and step in before it becomes a problem.

Sometimes overtime is a necessity, but it should be the exception, not the rule. To start dealing with employee burnout, you’ve got to make sure you’re on top of your employees’ schedules and highlight when they’re working too much.

At first glance, this might seem very complicated, but with modern timeclock software, it’s not. The system automates many processes for you, allowing managers and employees to keep track of hours effortlessly.

Employees can clock in online, with physical time clocks, and/or through the timeclock mobile app, and their hours are automatically synced to editable timesheets. This data is brought together in the online platform so managers can quickly edit and approve timesheets before syncing them to payroll.

With a clear picture of how many hours your employees are working, you can plan your schedules better and make sure people are getting the work/life balance they need.


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