People trying to avoid employee burnout
People + Culture

Avoiding employee burnout: Tips to support your workforce

Your employees are your most precious asset.

After an intense and unpredictable couple of years, your employees might be feeling a little depleted. Here’s how to support your workforce and avoid employee burnout. After all, your employees are your most precious asset, so spare no resources.

What is employee burnout?

The World Health Organisation lists burnout as an occupational phenomenon. It is characterised by feelings of exhaustion, increased mental distance from a job and reduced efficacy. Other tell-tale signs include low motivation and morale, high absenteeism, and less care about their work.

Factors that contribute to employee burnout include:

  • Too many responsibilities
  • An undefined role
  • Feelings of being undervalued
  • Feelings of being unsupported
  • Ineffective leadership
  • Impossible demands
  • Exposure to workplace violence or racism
  • Absence of any work-life balance.

Offering support in the workplace is key to prevent employee burnout

The impact of employee burnout on the business

Having tired or unhappy employees leads to lower levels of productivity and less output. This is particularly impactful in SMEs that have fewer employees to absorb the work that isn’t being completed. They also have less of a profit margin to pay employees who are not performing.

While affecting the business directly, this also affects a business’ insurer. Safe Work Australia reported that work-related mental stress claims are the most expensive type of workers’ compensation claim. While typical claims sit around $9,000, typical compensation payments for work stress were $24,500.

So, measures that protect the health and well-being of your workforce not only help your employees but also safeguard your business and your margin.

Tips to avoid employee burnout

  1. Embrace flexible work practices

Workplace flexibility consistently ranks as a top work perk among employees. However, workplace flexibility means something different to each person. Consider sending a survey to your employees or incorporating a question into the quarterly review to find out what would help your employees feel more empowered or enjoy a better work-life balance.

If shorter work hours are not an option for your business, you may be able to compensate your employees in other ways. For example, allowing WFH when needed or letting the employee set the hours that work for them.

Flexible work practices can prevent employee burnout

  1. Outsource

Work is seldom consistent and often has busy peak periods, followed by quieter spells. If your business follows these ebbs and flows, and your team is feeling particularly stretched, consider mobilising a casual workforce. If your work is seasonal, you can plan these periods well before business picks up. This also has the bonus of training potential new staff.

  1. Develop the positive aspects of work

Create an environment that your employees enjoy. Teamwork, opportunities for equal participation, programs for career development and rewarding employee contributions are all good practices that develop the positive aspects of the workplace.

  1. Inform your staff support is available

If an employee is feeling overwhelmed, it’s important they feel they can approach their manager. Managers should also be trained to provide solutions, whether this is shuffling responsibilities between team members or referring the employee to a service that can provide more direct support such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).


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