Employee Experience

4 Ways Great Managers Respond to Employee Burnout

5 April 2021

Address employee burnout effectively with these 4 tips.

As a team leader, you’ve probably seen or experienced burnout in the workplace more than you’d like. It became so common that in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon brought about by chronic workplace stress. It can be characterized by the following:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job
  • Feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

Severe levels of burnout in the workplace can negatively affect employees’ productivity, creativity, and professional relationships. It can also trigger emotional and physical health risks. This happens even before the pandemic. So, you can just imagine the additional stress employees experience under extremely unusual circumstances.

It’s become more important than ever to watch out for signs of burnout and learn how to properly manage it. Here are 4 things you can do to help your team reduce—if not prevent—employee burnout.


1. Make job descriptions clear

Employee in their workspace


Unrealistic performance expectations is listed as one of the major causes of work stress, along with overlapping priorities and a never-ending workload.

Help employees understand their role in the organization by identifying the scope of their work. This will also teach them how to set healthy boundaries and delegate tasks if necessary.


2. Create a safe space for burnout conversations

Employees talking


Open communication within teams fosters empathy. When your team trusts that they will not be judged for their feelings and opinions, they feel inclined to share their work struggles and frustrations, and also listen to what others have to say. It creates a network of support that helps employees balance their emotions in a healthy way.


3. Empower employees to take wellness breaks

Mug with "Take a Break" text


There’s an inexplicable guilt that some employees feel whenever they ask for a break. It usually happens when a hustle culture has been strongly established in the workplace.

Encourage your team to take control of their schedules and decide when they need a break. It can be as quick as a coffee break in the middle of a hectic day, or a full day-off away from the city. Hustling is only great if it’s not draining.


4. Recognize contributions and express gratitude, even for small wins

Employee happily checking phone


Employees may feel used and unappreciated when their hard work is not recognized. These feelings, when ignored for a long time, can damage morale and motivation, and can eventually lead to employee burnout.

Reward your employees for a job well done. Whether it’s a simple thank you, stellar performance review, surprise food treat, bonus time-off, or digital gift certificates they can use however they want, make them feel like they’re valued. Rewards should exist because you understand an employee’s worth. Otherwise, you’re only dangling a carrot they’ll eventually get tired of chasing.