Seven ways to stop your employees burning out

Samantha Caine

Blog post by Samantha Caine

Samantha Caine, is the Client Services Director at Business Linked Teams and has over 20 years experience working as a strategic training and recruitment expert for a variety of international businesses. She works with organisations to develop interactive, training solutions and oversees the implementation of global sales and leadership programmes that are aligned with leading edge thinking from across the world


11th July 2018

As featured in People Management magazine

Employee engagement is a vital ingredient in the success of any business, but research has shown that it is increasingly coming under threat by a surge in employee burnout. Organisations run the risk of poor productivity and soaring staff turnover – factors that can hit the bottom line hard – if they fail to address stress, burnout and discontent in the workplace.

Managing employee burnout properly is vital to holding on to staff, as well as protecting the company’s reputation and attracting future talent. Here are seven steps to help businesses avoid burnout and keep employees happy:

Clearly define roles

A job description defines the key responsibilities and functions within each individual’s role. A well-constructed job description means that each individual’s output works in unison with their team and the wider organisation, ensuring maximum efficiency. Poor job design can result in certain responsibilities, such as those that would work better shared throughout the team, falling on individuals and creating unnecessary stress. When this stress leads to burnout, the wider team and wider organisation can lose efficiency as those unfamiliar with those responsibilities are tasked with taking them on quickly. In turn, this too can lead to burnout among the wider team. 

Set crystal clear objectives

Without a clear set of objectives, employees are effectively flying blind, lacking purpose and direction. Business leaders should understand the objectives of their workforces as they are likely to have signed off on the hiring of each individual. Burnout occurs when these objectives aren’t clearly communicated to individuals who can all-too easily get stuck in a cycle of working hard towards the wrong set of targets, only to find their efforts are questioned or go unrecognised.

Invest in good training

To excel in their roles, employees require the correct skills, knowledge and behaviours. While many will bring exemplary sets of these to the table when they join the business, further development is often required to align the individual’s skills, knowledge and behaviours to the organisation and its specific objectives. Sometimes these objectives shift, requiring further development to bring the workforce in line with those changes. Ensuring that adequate training is provided will help the workforce excel, removing the stresses associated with struggling to fulfil objectives without the necessary skills. 

Make sure adequate support is in place 

Without sufficient levels of support, employee stress can escalate. The result is downturns in efficiency and higher chances of burnout. Being able to open up and talk about stresses and anxieties is essential to maintaining a happy and productive workplace. Even when support systems are in place, employees can be unaware of them; therefore it’s important to ensure every individual is aware of the support available.  

Have regular reviews

Feedback is essential to keeping employees on track with a clear idea of the areas they might need to improve and what they need to achieve. Reviews should take place regularly with a set of targets given to each individual to complete before their next review. Providing feedback and objectives in bitesize chunks will ensure that individuals don’t lose their purpose and can accurately track their own progress, leading to higher employee satisfaction. 

Understand work-life balance

‘Work hard, play hard’ has become an overused mantra in the business world and it shouldn’t be assumed that all employees share this principle. Some might want to work hard, then relax. Others will talk about working smart instead of hard. Businesses need to understand that the ideal work-life balance is different for everyone and, however they envision this, it should be supported. This means recognising when employees are striking a poor balance and ensuring they get the downtime they need to maintain personal happiness alongside productivity in the workplace. 

Be transparent about progression 

Career progression is a big incentive for employees to work to the best of their abilities. Providing individuals with a clear view of exactly what they’re working towards will increase motivation and reduce negativity when they are exposed to additional stress from time to time. Managers can use regular reviews to communicate opportunities for progression as well as provide feedback on employee performance.

Getting the workforce into shape and working efficiently with minimal chance of burnout must begin at management level. As leaders in the workplace, managers should have the right training in place to recognise and react to the signs of burnout in themselves. Importantly, managers should also oversee their team to ensure that maximum productivity is being achieved while maintaining a high level of employee satisfaction that will be passed down through the ranks.