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Dealing With Employee Burnout

By Sonya Buck, Australia


If you have noticed one or more of your key employees are no longer being productive or have lost enthusiasm for their work, this may be due to employee burnout.


Employee burnout is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion and can happen for many reasons including:

  • The employee is overworked;
  • An employee may be bored, depressed or under-stimulated with their job;
  • They may be feeling insecure because of fear of losing their job; and
  • Job expectations may not be clear.


How can you spot that an employee is experiencing burnout?

  • An increase in sick days;
  • They may arrive for work late or leave early;
  • A decrease in their productivity;
  • Their health is in decline;
  • The employee has a lack of enthusiasm; and
  • They start to isolate themselves from their colleagues.


As a boss, you have the ability to recognise and improve an employee’s work situation.  You may like to consider:

  • Doing an audit of their work.  Is it possible for anyone to complete the work they have been given in the time allocated?  Check if any of the work needs to automated or delegated.
  • Holding regular catch ups with each staff member and encourage them to give feedback about what they are working on and find out any difficulties they may be facing.
  • Ascertaining if they need any training.  Maybe they are struggling because they don’t know exactly what they are doing.
  • Encouraging the employee to take their breaks and if at all possible, away from their desk or workstation.  Fresh air is a great stress reliever.
  • Showing your appreciation for what they do.   As well as telling them directly, small tokens of your appreciation such as buying morning tea for the team may help.
  • Finding out what motivates your staff.  It may not always be monetary.
  • Check on each employee’s leave records to ensure they are taking regular leave.
  • Discouraging overtime.  Research suggests after a certain number of hours worked, we cease being productive anyway.
  • Thinking about if your staff spread too thin due to absences from other staff?


Don’t forget your employees who may not be located in the office.  It’s particularly important for the safety of those who work on the road aren’t overworked or overtired when they are driving.  Are your expectations of the distances they need to cover realistic?


Remember sending someone on holiday is only a temporary fix, as you need to get to the heart of the problem to ensure the situation doesn’t continue.


No one likes to see someone constantly stressed or with health in decline.  Ensure you are in touch with your staff to identify those who may be struggling. If you address staff burnout early, the benefits to your employees and your business can be enormous.