How can employers combat burnout?

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Health Assured team

08 December 2023

What is burnout?

If you constantly feel exhausted and depleted, you could be dealing with burnout.

Burnout is a consistent feeling of being overwhelmed and exhausted from excessive amounts of pressure. It is most commonly seen in work environments due to a variety of unique reasons, including extreme stress.

Causes of burnout

Burnout is a form of exhaustion that is caused by a multitude of factors.

Your people may experience burnout as a result of extended emotional, physical, and mental health stress in their lives, most commonly at work. Employees may feel as though they are overwhelmed with their job roles and responsibilities and unable to keep up with the demands of the job. This may be because of extreme deadlines, unrealistic workloads, or other pressures. 

Conversely, burnout can also be caused by colleagues feeling unchallenged. Your people can experience burnout when they feel as though they are not progressing enough in the company. Or if they feel as though progression or learning opportunities are lacking.

They may become complacent and cynical about their job due to lack of development.

Employer’s responsibility

As an employer, you need to be vigilant and aware of your people’s mental wellbeing. You have a duty of care to your employees which needs to be upheld.

You should make a conscious effort to take steps to reduce the risk of burnout and be able to support a colleague if they experience symptoms.

Formulate an action plan specifically to support someone who may be experiencing burnout. You may want to do a risk assessment to assess if your organisation needs adjustments to combat overstress and burnout.

How can employers and managers combat burnout?

  1. Spot the signs

Great managers and employers will always strive to fully understand and support the struggles of their colleagues. After all, it was Einstein who said, ‘any fool can know. The point is to understand,’

Understanding the signs of burnout and how this can affect your colleagues is essential when creating your action plan on how to support your people.

Familiarize yourself with all signs of burnout, here are a few examples:

  • Exhaustion
  • Your people are becoming cynical
  • You notice colleagues disengaging with work
  • You see a declining productivity or performance
  • You notice increasing absentee rates
  • You notice and meditate more conflicts
  1. Prioritize consistent employee communication

Communication is key to any organisation and business. However, a major reason why people experience burnout is a lack of communication.

This could be down to not understanding the expectations and responsibilities of their role or feeling unsupported.

Create policies and procedures to encourage managers to communicate with their teams often and set clear and realistic communication expectations, including weekly meetings.

Establish regular wellbeing discussions with your people to check in and signpost mental health support such as an EAP.

Adopt an open-door policy where colleagues can discuss anything honestly.

  1. Encourage colleagues to take time off

Talking time off is necessary for all colleagues. It allows the body and mind to rest and reset.

It is no surprise that overworking leads to burnout and if your colleagues are not taking the appropriate time to recover, they can suffer from exhaustion and eventually burnout.

If employees are determined to work rather than switch off, they could experience presenteeism, the act of being present at work but not actually working. Presenteeism is a productivity killer, discouraging sufficient headspace to rest and relax outside of work.

  1. Encourage good mental health practices

Many companies now have EAPs (Employee Assistance Programmes) to support colleagues when they need mental clarity. Counsellors offer unique perspectives and assist colleagues in overcoming mental and emotional stresses.

Supplying an EAP to your organisation will give your people access to the ability to better understand themselves. They may also discuss ways in which to cope with someone unjudgmental and supportive.

  1. Lead by Example

A study completed in 2022 reported that according to 47.85% of UK adults, leadership is by far the most important skill for a manager to possess. As a manager or employer, you should be able to lead your people at all levels of the business. Physical and Mental wellbeing should be treated as such.

Encourage self-care and switching off from work after work hours and during the weekend by doing it yourself. Promote self-care in the same way, such as discussing gym activities or starting a monthly mental health check-ins.

Providing support with burnout

Our Employee Assistance Programme provides guidance and supports your employees with their mental health at work and in life. We can help you create a safe, productive workspace that supports all.

We support employees mental wellbeing with any problems they might be facing in their professional or personal lives with our 24-hour counselling helpline.


Find out more about EAPs



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