Are your staff suffering from burnout? Here’s how to avoid employee losses


Employee burnout is one of the most common killers of productivity in the workplace. Yet, when faced with a team of disengaged or disenfranchised employees who aren’t performing as well as they used to, leaders are often too quick to crack the whip and dish out a large dose of discipline. Naturally, these efforts tend to backfire and cause an accidental exodus of their top-tier talent. If these behaviours are coming from your star players, it’s more than likely that the issue is organisational rather than personal. However, in an increasingly competitive landscape characterized by a shortage of skills, keeping your staff motivated and engaged with your company is essential in achieving business growth. If you are to prevent an early exit from your best employees, you must look to the bigger picture to combat burnout before it’s too late:

1. Set realistic goals

Unrealistic deadlines and aggressive targets create the perfect storm for burnout to brew, but couple that with a lack of resources and you’ll soon see team morale drop faster than lightning. When assigning tasks, it’s imperative for managers to talk to their employees about what can realistically be achieved in a certain amount of time without comprising the quality of work or the mental health of the individual. 

2. Recognise good performance

Fail to recognise hard work and your employees are bound to feel unappreciated and demotivated. Giving credit where its due is essential in showing your staff that their commitment is valued and further gives them a reason to do their best. As well as appraisals and One-to-Ones, however, leaders should publicly recognise the performance of their top talent in company-wide meetings and give rewards to those who have taken on tasks outside of their remit.

3. Keep reasonable working hours

In the early days of developing the MacintoshSteve Jobs handed out T-shirts that read: “Working 90 hours a week and loving it.” This may have been true of his development team, but it certainly shouldn’t be the norm for your business. Expecting your employees to burn the candle at both ends will only result in exhaustion. Before long, they become withdrawn from the company and cynical towards its strategy. While most of us have worked extra hours unpaid to finish a project or meet a deadline, early starts and late finishes should only be encouraged when the business is at its busiest.

4. Create a supportive culture

No-one wants to lose their best talent to burnout. However, people begin to lose interest when they feel their work has little meaning, value or purpose. To prevent them from losing sight of why they applied for the role in the first place, always make the time to talk to your staff and check in on how they’re doing. If they complain of having too much on their plate or their engagement levels have dropped, ask them what they need to reignite the passion they once brought to the job – it could be a fun side-project to mix up their daily tasks, flexible working or even just clearer direction. Fostering a supportive culture should allow your employees to feel comfortable sharing their concerns or frustrations and leaders should use this feedback to ensure it doesn’t become a recurring issue.