Employee Burnout - How can Management Help?

7 Minutes

Working in the corporate sector has its perks however with a well-paid role comes high press...

By Shagun Sharma

Associate Consultant

Working in the corporate sector has its perks however with a well-paid role comes high pressure and therefore burnout is very prevalent.

Everyone has undoubtedly heard the well-worn advice ‘if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life’. A quote that is sadly becoming a myth. Loving your job and having passion and drive towards work is one thing but due to added stress and the pressures felt from a high-performing role, employees tend to take on extra responsibilities and work crazy hours. The type of mentality, that you need to do more, or what you’re doing isn’t enough is the perfect recipe for burnout, with consequences that are hard to come back from.

With this in mind, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has now officially recognized burnout as a real issue and the responsibility for managing it has shifted from the individual to the organization. Organizations should manage what is expected of employees and ensure they take the holiday they are entitled to etc. WHO has also noted the 3 dimensions that characterize burnout: Feeling depleted and exhausted Increased mental distance from the job, or feelings of negativity towards the job and reduced efficiency. 

Leaders can look out for the signs above and build their burnout strategy. With employee well-being and mental health being at the forefront or every agenda since Covid, burnout is something that needs to be looked at on a deeper level. Well-being has gone from being considered a personal problem to an opportunity for companies to take responsibility for their employees, by focusing on well-being strategies and programs. One of the most powerful drivers of burnout is an imbalance between workload and resources. Employers should view high rates of burnout as a powerful warning sign that the organization—not the individual—needs to undergo meaningful systematic change. Employers can reduce employee burnout in their organization by doing something as simple as listening as one of the most common reasons for burnout is a lack of communication.

Knowing how your employees are feeling and what’s affecting them in their day-to-day work life is important. Many people do not find it easy to be vulnerable at work, they like to bring their best selves to work, and hide their emotional side. If leaders can be vulnerable with their teammates and demonstrate empathy it will help to remove the stigma around mental health and well-being and it will build a stronger team. Discussions can be via 1:1 meetings, team lunches, workshops etc., with the aim to help employers build a psychologically safe workplace that cultivates compassion and support. An increasing number of employers have expanded access to mental health services; however, research shows that almost 70% of employees find it challenging to access those services.

Leaders have a strong influence on their teams and should cultivate and encourage usage. HR should regularly evaluate their mental health and well-being strategies and assess whether resources for mental well-being are at parity with physical health benefits. Looking into how frequently they are being used by employees can also be an indicator of how psychologically safe an employee feels. I would like to add a piece of advice that helps me personally; don’t be so hard on yourself, and have compassion for yourself and others around you, no matter how frustrating a situation. Keep breathing and take your time when things get tough. We have all normalized burnout to an unhealthy extent, glorifying working extra-long hours and during downtime, eating lunch at your desk, and not leaving the office on time.

If you begin to feel burnt out, ensure you are sharing how you feel. There is no shame in admitting it and hopefully, this blog will help employers take the steps in making their organization a safe space to open up in. I would love to hear from you, if you are an HR professional who has faced employee burnout, or you have utilized the tips above, or have recently come up with ways to reduce employee burnout in your organization, get in touch. Alternatively, if you are a client seeking to expand your HR team or an HR candidate looking for your next move then please feel free to reach out to me at ss@elliottscotthr.com or via LinkedIn.