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How to avoid employee burnout

Written by: Tom Nash
(View Author Bio)

Supporting employee health and well-being is challenging even in the best of times. Taking steps to avoid burnout now will help employees feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally in the long run.

SEVEN out of TEN employees say this is the most stressful time of their professional career. Not only are employees worried about the present, but they are also anxious about their future from a personnel and career perspective. This stress, anxiety, and sense of uncertainty are found to cause burnout.

There are many factors that can cause burnout (some not so obvious) which all leaders need to be aware of, especially in today's environment. Here are four examples:

1. Lack of meaning

Where employees that don’t feel a sense of meaning and mission in their work (going through the motions), can result in burnout even though they may work regular hours.  

2. Feeling as if their manager doesn’t understand them and their ideas aren’t taken seriously

This concept comes back to leaders who truly take the time to listen to their employees versus those who don’t.  

3. The good work they do isn’t meaningfully acknowledge or recognized

Employees that have put in the effort during these stressful and challenging times need to feel their leaders care and appreciate their hard work. 

4. Their job doesn’t challenge them to push their limits

If employees don’t feel challenged, motivated, and incentivized to do the work over a long period of time, it reduces the chance of finding meaning and in becoming the best person employees can be.

We can bundle the points above in one simple question….is the work worthwhile?


What can leaders do to prevent and avoid employee burnout?

Listen and be empathic

Leaders have a lot of responsibility, therefore at times, they can sometimes fall into the trap of being stuck in their own world and forget to take the time to look out for the employees they are responsible for. Supporting employees is key.  

Acknowledge and recognize

The normal working life for employees has changed a great deal. How leaders recognize their work in this new environment is critical.

Ignite meaning

How can we ignite meaning? Spell out how their incredible work positively impacts the company values and its short/long term objectives. Create a culture of trust so employees feel encouraged to take ownership of their tasks, while promoting flexible hours. There is nothing wrong with employees taking some time to rest when they truly need/deserve it.

Get back to the health basics

What do we mean by behavioural health basics? Think of it as the everyday behaviour that impacts our health. Ask yourself, are employees getting the right amount of sleep, eating well, regularly exercising or relaxing. All these health basics have such a profound impact on how employees feel emotionally and physically. Try talking about these topics and share your own experiences. Little nudges like this can have a positive effect down the road.

Tom Nash

Tom Nash

Account Development Director, BI WORLDWIDE Canada

Tom has over nine years of experience in account management across a range of industries including automotive, telecommunications, health, finance, insurance, government, retail, and sports. Joining the BIW team in 2015, he works with clients in planning, implementing, and managing effective programs that achieve measurable results.