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The Alternative Board Blog

Create a Workplace that Avoids Burnout

Feb. 15, 2023 | Posted by Lee Polevoi
A group of professionals looking at a report and collaboration on their findings.


When one or more employee leaves a business and looks elsewhere for employment, it’s worth finding out why they chose to quit. Burnout is one of the leading causes behind these career-changing decisions. 


As CNBC notes, “Even in a job market flush with opportunities, workers across the world are feeling overworked, disengaged and burnt out.” CNBC cites a 2022 Microsoft study showing that “nearly 50% of employees and 53% of managers report that they’re burned out at work.” 


Those kinds of numbers should make every CEO and business leader sit up and pay attention. (And, of course, business leaders themselves are subject to burnout.) 


If you see signs of burnout in the workplace, or wish to avoid that looming crisis altogether, here are tips to keep in mind: 


Know what burnout looks like (and the causes behind it).  


Burnout is often defined as marked mental and/or physical fatigue. According to Business.com, burnout “typically starts out slow and builds over time, until the employee experiences feelings of helplessness, failure, defeat, detachment and cynicism.” Causes for this condition include: 


  • Work overload 
  • Workplace conflicts 
  • High-pressure project deadlines 
  • Uncertainty about one’s job responsibilities 
  • Absence of support among supervisors 
  • A lack of work/life balance 


Even in businesses striving for transparency and open communications, there’s such a thing as too much communications. Every email “Message from the President” and/or meeting invitation is disruptive to workflow, and leads employees to a sense that work has become overwhelming and impossible to do well. 


Support your managers’ efforts to prevent burnout. 


In many cases, an employee’s manager is well-placed to identify signs of burnout or, hopefully, help prevent it from occurring at all. Responsible managers seek to “adjust workloads, create realistic expectations and be aware when someone has been going full throttle in overdrive for too long,” notes Limeade.  


The executive team should support managers who opt to meet with their team members at least once a week. This approach can help identify symptoms of discontent and make employees feel they are being seen and heard. 


Want additional insight? Download Easy Ways to Improve Your Company Culture



Encourage the use of Paid Time Off (PTO). 


Employees most prone to burnout often choose to always come to work and never take time off. Increasingly, business leaders understand the value of encouraging the use of PTO and vacation time as a way for employees to relieve stress, recharge their batteries, and feel more present in their jobs. 


Is your company’s PTO policy flexible enough to meet employees’ needs? Are you and your team actively promoting the value of taking PTO? Remember, if the CEO never takes time off, it sends a signal to everyone else that they should keep working as well—a surefire recipe for eventual burnout. 


Make sure employees have the right tools and resources. 


If your staff uses outdated technology in their jobs, this can lead to added stress and potential burnout. Make the right tools and resources available to each employee. Not only does this promote greater productivity, it can lessen employee stress levels, since they are equipped with tools and software that facilitate getting the job done.  


Have a generous employee appreciation policy. 


Everyone likes being recognized for their hard work. But you don’t have to wait for completion of projects to highlight individual and team efforts.  


What about rewarding employees without a specific reason to do so? As Complete Payroll notes, “Whether it’s a gift card, extra break time, the chance to leave early, or snacks in the breakroom, these types of rewards just for being part of the team can help motivate employees a lot and make them feel appreciated and understood.” 


Want to learn more about enhancing your workplace environment? Download our free TAB whitepaper, “Easy Ways to Improve Your Company Culture.” 


Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board


Written by Lee Polevoi

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