How to avoid the employee burnout bug.

What do you get when you give employees more work than they can handle along with a dull working environment and a sense of under-appreciation? Burnout.  It’s one of the most damaging things that can happen to a company.  Collaborators stop collaborating.  A person who was once cheerful suddenly seems the reincarnation of Droopy.

Aggressiveness starts to rear its ugly head.  Overall, the work environment turns into a place of torture and productivity starts steadily and sometimes dramatically increasing. The people in charge must take appropriate measures to make sure employee burnout never becomes part of the company culture.  Luckily, there are some things that companies can do to make sure it never happens.

  1.    Delegate more, regulate less

Empowerment.  That’s one of the biggest company allies when it comes to preventing burnout.  Whenever employees are given an assignment, step back and let them see it through.  Nothing can demotivate hard-working employees more than feeling there every move and decision is being criticized or judged before giving the green light.  Let them choose take on challenges using their own skills and processes.  Let employees know you trust how they will do the task and step back.  Believing in someone’s abilities can be a great way to get employees to commit to the company’s mission and vision.

  1.    Watch the load

Asking a worker to stay after hours or to take some work home for an important meeting every once a blue moon won’t affect company morale and much less lead to burn out. Having those requests become a constant will.  Companies should put processes in place that will evaluate whether an employee is being asked to do more than he or she can handle on a consistent basis and that will observe how the extra workload affects a person’s productivity and motivation.

  1.    Be fair

Playing favorites within the company is a big burnout catalyst.  Employees lose motivation when they notice one of their peers is being treated differently and it has nothing to do with how that person does his or her job.  Giving credit where it isn’t due will surely push employees out the door rather than keeping them in.  It’s important to avoid inexplicable or random promotions.  When the only reason an employee can grow in a company is who he or she knows, then you are in for some serious burns.

  1.    The proper tools

You can’t expect for an employee to do his or her best with the bare minimum of tools. Companies must make investments that will guarantee employees have the most appropriate equipment, the latest training, and up-to date documents.  I know.  This means investing a significant amount of money.  But guess what? You’ve got to spend money to make money!  If a company is looking to save money, the last place it should look is an employee’s workstation.

  1.    Recognize success

When was the last time you heard or saw someone get upset because they received a pat on the back?  I bet you haven’t.  A little bit of recognition goes a long way when it comes to keeping collaborators engaged.  And if it’s in public even better.  Meetings. Training sessions.  Newsletters.  Intranet.  These are all good places to let people know who is doing a good job.  People give their best when they know their efforts are being appreciated.

  1.    Wellness programs

Wellness programs aim to make sure the people that make the company run are in top notch physical and emotional shape.  Strategies like health awareness campaigns, company eye exams, psychological counseling are some of the ways that employers can ensure collaborators are fit to do their job and they can also help determine a plan of attack in case they are not.  Remember, people are behind a company’s success.  They are not machines.

  1.    No work zones

Full-time employees spend at least 8 hours a day in the office.  Give them spaces to disconnect from work.  Establish a no work zone where they are encouraged to talk about their family, hobbies, and passions.  Anything work related is forbidden in these spaces.  Have department costume contests.  Casually Tuesdays.  Bring a pet to work day.  These are just some of the things that will show them that work is not the only thing that matters to the company.

Company Wellness Area Office Space_human resources_jason hanold

Image courtesy of Keyser at

  1.    Attitude change

People don’t change overnight.  Start noticing whether employee attitude and posture changes over time.  A once energetic employee who seems like he or she can barely get out of bed is a cause for concern.  Constant bickering or grumpiness from people you wouldn’t expect is another.  When you start seeing people’s attitudes change then it’s time to have a little pow-wow and get to the bottom of it.

  1.    A little piece of home

Let employees bring a piece of their lives to the office.  Family pictures.  Working while listening to music.  Comfortable clothing.  A plant.  These are things we have around the house that make it all more enjoyable.  Letting your collaborators bring a small part of it into the office will give them a sense of comfort that will reward you with a motivated and stress free environment.

  1.   Does the person fit the job

Is the person being overwhelmed by his or her position? Do employees seem they are bored because they are not being challenged?  Consider these questions when analyzing how a collaborator is doing his or her job.  Not feeling like we fit in a certain position can lead to burnout just as much as being over worked.  Companies must make sure that a person has not only the skills for a position, but also the personality to assume the responsibilities it entails.

Burnout can have huge consequences within a company.  Increased absenteeism. Constant health related issues. Drop in productivity.  It’s up to the people in charge to make sure the bright flames of employee motivation and commitment do not burn out.