Effective Management

3 Tools to Combat Burnout

Effective Management
August 24, 2023
4 min read

89% of employees report that they have experienced workplace burnout. Burnout is relevant for several reasons, from individual well-being to overall business productivity and implications for employees' personal lives. Given these factors, it's essential for organizations to proactively address the risk of burnout, both for the sake of their employee's well-being and for their own operational effectiveness.

What is burnout? The World Health Organization defines burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Three dimensions characterize it:

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

Getting to the root cause of burnout

Burnout has been shown to be the shared responsibility of both the individual, the organization, and our work culture at large. Due to this, there are many factors that can contribute to an employee’s burnout. It is important for organizations to recognize these factors and find ways to improve upon them.

“Burnout is about your organization, not your people” - writes Jennifer Moss, author of The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It. “Burnout is a complex constellation of poor workplace practices and policies, antiquated institutional legacies, roles and personalities at higher risk, and system, societal issues that have been unchanged, plaguing us for too long.”

5 factors that contribute to employee burnout:

  1. Increased Workload: A Viser report found that the number one contributing factor to burnout was an increase in workload. This is becoming a larger issue as organizations are needing to do more with less.
  2. Lack of Autonomy: It can be extremely frustrating and devaluing as an employee if you are not trusted to do your job or to take on responsibilities without being micromanaged.
  3. Lack of Recognition: Lack of recognition creates a sense that the work an employee does doesn’t matter, or doesn’t have an impact on the company.
  4. Lack of Connection: Work Relationships create a sense of belonging and well-being. Being a part of the team and working towards common goals at work are rewarding for most, and are key to helping manage stress.
  5. Unfair Treatment: If an employee is experiencing bias, prejudice, favoritism, mistreatment, or being asked to produce work to an unreasonable standard in tight timelines, they are likely experiencing unfair treatment.

There are many more contributing factors that are not listed above, but being aware, sharing that information with your team and managers, and analyzing your processes to see if there are areas to improve is the first step to being proactive about burnout.

How to Combat Burnout

At Drumbeat, we are on a mission to empower managers to avoid burnout- both for themselves, and for their teammates. We have created 3 easy to implement action prompts, backed by organizational science, which will allow you to recognize and prevent burnout for your team.

1-Manage Workload

Employees who strongly agree that they always have too much to do are 2.2x more likely to say they experience burnout very often or always at work (Gallup).

Take a moment to reflect:

As a manager, it is critical to check in proactively with your team to ensure their workload is manageable and they feel they have the necessary support to succeed. Support might come in the form of catalysts (e.g. more dedicated time for strategic thinking or a team brainstorm session) or removing obstacles (e.g. improving the clarity of goals, providing enough supporting resources).

Now, take action:

Over the next week, check in on your employees and their workload. Ask about how manageable it feels and how you can best support it, both in the form of providing catalysts and removing obstacles.

Looking forward:

Giving employees ownership over their workload and paths forward helps employees feel a sense of control over their work. Employees are 43% less likely to experience high levels of burnout when they have a choice in what tasks to do, when to do them and how much time to spend on them (Gallup).

2-Create a Safe Space

Employees whose managers are always willing to listen to their work-related problems are 62% less likely to be burned out (Gallup). Listening may seem like an obvious solution and often managers feel as though they are doing well in this area. Yet, too few managers make frequent employee check-ins and ongoing conversations the highest priority.

Take a moment to reflect:

To help combat burnout, employees need to believe that their manager will address their problems, and they need to feel like their manager genuinely cares about them as people. The best managers demonstrate that they care by investing in employees through awareness, time and attention.

Now, take action:

This week, specifically prioritize your employee and team check-ins, creating an open and safe space where people can openly share and be heard. Consider sharing first how you are doing to help build rapport and psychological safety with your team members.

Looking forward:

Make personalized action plans for each employee to convert your team’s needs and opportunities into reality. It is important to hold yourself (and others!) accountable along the way.

3-Set and Enforce Boundaries

A manager’s actions are more influential than their words. How you conduct yourself when it comes to setting and enforcing boundaries is a signal to the team of what’s expected of them. When you make space to unplug, you normalize that behavior for your team.

Take a moment to reflect:

In what ways have you not enforced boundaries in your own work? How might that be interpreted by the team? 

Now, take action:

This week, consider how your actions (ideally before you do them!) either support or go against the boundaries you and your team have aligned on. 

Looking forward:

As you consider your actions and boundary setting this week, consider if there are any unwritten rules or beliefs that need to be explicitly addressed?

Need help?

Have you experienced burnout on your team? What did that look like? How did you manage it? Let us know in the comments!

If you need support as a manager, check out our coaching and manager platform here. We’d love to show you how it works. If you’d like to chat, click here to schedule a meeting.

Sign up for product updates and culture insights.

Product updates
Culture tips
Research findings
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.