How to stop employee burnout

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Health Assured team

16 July 2019

In May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) added burnout to the International Classification of Diseases, which means that it will become a globally recognised medical condition as of 2020.


Burnout is a direct effect of stress in the workplace. So you need to make sure you know how to deal with it, or you could be putting your people and your organisation at risk.


What is burnout?

It is easy to get burnout confused with everyday stress. While it is likely that there will be stressful moments during work hours, they are usually short-lived. Burnout is different, and much more serious.


Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress at work.


It doesn’t happen overnight. When someone feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to meet constant demands, the stress will build up and begin to take its toll on their wellbeing.


Eventually, they begin to lose interest and motivation in their job role, and will feel like they can’t continue with work. This means they’ve reached burnout.  


What does this mean for you?

The WHO defines burnout as, “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”


This means that the onus is on you, the employer, to manage burnout in your workplace.


So, what can you do?


1. Watch out for warning signs

When it comes to burnout, prevention is better than a cure. If you can spot when an employee is struggling, you have a much better chance of reducing burnout altogether.


Here are some of the signs that an employee is in danger of burnout:

- Sudden change in mood

- Drop in performance levels

- Uncharacteristic behaviour

- Reduced energy and efficiency

- Decreased motivation


2. Reduce the stigma

It can feel difficult to discuss mental health matters in the workplace, but making sure staff know it’s not taboo can encourage people to speak up when they need support.


Promote open communication. Run a mental health awareness or wellbeing day, if you can. Let staff know about local support groups. And tell your employees about the symptoms of burnout, so they can spot it, too.


3. Manage workloads

Make sure workloads are shared evenly, deadlines are reasonable, and that staff aren’t juggling lots of different tasks at the same time. Workplaces can be busy, fast-paced, and high-pressured, but workloads should still be manageable.


Achieving your organisation’s goals is a team effort, and staff should feel comfortable taking a day off work from time to time without worrying about who will handle their workload while they’re gone.


The cost of employee burnout

While the wellbeing of your employees should always be a top priority, you need to think about the impact that burnout has on your organisation, too.


Burnt out employees might go on extended sick leave, which could leave you short-staffed, and if they remain in work they’ll be less productive in their positions. Low morale and motivation is also contagious—it’s likely that they’ll affect the people around them as a result of being burnt out.



If you would like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on:

0844 892 2493

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