How to Reduce the Risk of Burnout

Burnout occurs when prolonged and excessive work-related stress and over-extension develops into mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. Unlike stress, which causes a person to become anxious and frantic, burnout causes people to mentally check out and become disengaged, ineffective, and depleted.

Signs of burnout

People experiencing burnout often feel distanced from their work and isolated from colleagues. They might question the point of their role or make cynical remarks when discussing work. They might struggle to concentrate, procrastinate, miss deadlines, or deliver work that is of a much lower standard than is normal for them.

Burnout also causes people to withdraw from usual social activities with colleagues. They might be less engaged in work meetings and discussions and may be overall less communicative.

If you spot signs of burnout in an individual on your team, it’s likely that others might be experiencing similar problems. It’s important to consider the workplace environment carefully and strive to create a culture that helps people remain engaged, motivated and energised by their work.

How to rectify and reduce the risk of burnout

When people feel that their work has a purpose, they tend to be more engaged. Recognising the impact of a team’s work on a regular basis can help with this. Sharing feedback from other departments or from customers is a great way to demonstrate to your team that they have a purpose.

Recognise and reward good work to show your appreciation for team members and help them to stay engaged and motivated. Rewards could be in the form of written thanks, public recognition, acknowledgement from senior members of staff, or financial benefits.

Over-extension is a common cause of burnout, particularly recently. The pandemic has created new flexible working policies, which in some workplaces, have developed into an ‘always on’ culture. Set and discuss boundaries with members of your team to ensure they’re not working all hours of the day or feeling pressure to be available all the time. Make sure people use their annual leave to take time off and recharge.

Consider also assessing your working practices to see if individuals in your team are prioritising too many tasks. Always make it clear what the priorities are so that team members feel empowered to put the pause button on less important tasks when necessary.

By showing your appreciation, rewarding good work, and ensuring people are not under pressure to overextend themselves, you’re less likely to witness burnout within your team.