How to Reduce Burnout in the Workplace

Businesswoman with intense stress and painful headache. Woman in job problems.

Are you exhausted at work? Do you experience chronic stress and fatigue that impairs your ability to be as great as you can be? These are all symptoms of burnout, and you are not alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently identified burnout as a recognized medical diagnosis. According to WHO, burnout is defined as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” According to WHO, burnout has 3 primary components. It contains:

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.
  3. Reduced professional efficacy.

As a leader, it is crucial to be aware of burnout and the consequences it can cause on your team and organization. It is especially important to manage your own personal health to ensure you do not fall victim to burnout. However, like most things, we likely do not realize burnout is happening until we are burnt out.

Burnout is especially prevalent in younger generations. According to a Gallup survey, 28% Millennials feel frequent or constant burnout, compared to 21% of those in older generations. This is an alarming statistic that only seems to be increasing.  The primary causes of burnout are unfair treatment at work, imbalanced workload, responding to work emails and texts after hours, unrealistic deadlines, and a lack of support from leadership.

Think about your own working situation? Are these causes prevalent in your organization or team? If so, here is how you can help avoid and minimize burnout on your team.

  1. Communicate. Encourage your team (and yourself) to be open about burnout. Create a safe space to share burnout related feelings and do not penalize or criticize those that are feeling burned out. Actively listen, see if there are ways you can shift work around or make adjustments that can reduce the feelings of burnout.
  2. Invest in leadership development. A Gallup study found that employees who felt supported by their managers were overwhelmingly less likely to experience burnout regularly. Think about the individuals in leadership roles? Do they have the tools necessary to manage burnout and support their team? Think skills like delegation, empathy, and prioritization. If leaders do not have these skill sets, the more likely burnout will increase, and turnover will follow.
  3. Focus on health. This is not new advice, but we have a tendency to let our health fall to the waste side during periods of stress. Make self-care a priority for you and individuals in your organization. Encourage individuals to step away from their computer, take a walk, and decompress. Also, make it a policy that everyone takes their full allotted vacation time and discourage individuals from responding to messages outside of working hours. If you are the boss, lead the way by not sending emails during off work hours, you need to lead by example.
  4. Practice stress management techniques. Introduce deep breathing, meditation, and stretching exercises into team meetings or call for periodic breaks where individuals are required to stand and move around. Focus on the mental health of yourself and your team. The better your mental health, the more resilient you can be to burnout.