7 tips to stop you losing good employees to burnout


Even the best employees can suffer from burnout. Find out how to prevent it from happening in your workforce.

There’s nothing new about burnout, except it’s no longer being viewed as a mental health issue. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified it as an occupational phenomenon and not a medical condition. It can affect anyone, even your best employees.

This means employers need to take action to resolve burnout before your employees decide to find better work conditions.

What is burnout?

The WHO defines burnout as, “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” They point to three symptoms employees experience with burnout:   

What are the causes of burnout?

According to a Gallup poll of 7500 employees, the top five causes of burnout are:

  • Unfair treatment at work
  • Unmanageable workload
  • Unclear communication from managers
  • Lack of manager support
  • Unreasonable time pressure.

7 things you can do to prevent burnout in your employees

The breakthrough discovery in the Gallup report is that managers are largely responsible for burnout. The good news is that companies are in great position to make the changes necessary to prevent burnout and, in the process, retain their staff.

  • Make managers responsible for addressing burnout with their teams. Empower your management team to find out how employees are feeling about their work, their workplace and their role in the organisation.
  • Talk to your employees. The first step to identifying burnout is to have candid conversations with your employees about workplace stresses they may be experiencing. Ask them how they’re travelling and take note of descriptions that describe burnout. The employee may not recognise they’re on the path to burnout.
  • Consider implementing a company-wide survey about burnout. It may be easier for your employees to answer questions in an anonymous survey. For large organisations, a survey may be the fastest way to understand if there’s a wider burnout issue that needs to be addressed.
  • Make wellbeing part of your culture. Ensure your employees are getting enough time to focus on things outside of work. The five elements of wellbeing are interrelated and include career, financial, physical, social and community. Check in with employees on a regular basis to ensure they’re paying attention to all five areas.
  • Ensure your team understands the objective. Teams or individuals within the team who aren’t clear on the priorities will either spend too much time on one task or spread themselves thin across multiple tasks at once. This is a recipe for burnout.
  • Understand and manage your employees’ ambitions – and expectations. Getting to know employees as individuals, celebrating achievements, having performance conversations, and conducting formal reviews all contribute to helping employees feel a sense of worth in the workplace.
  • Ensure your team is fully staffed for the job. According to Gallup, the risk of occupational burnout increases greatly when employees exceed an average of 50 hours of work per week and escalates even more at 60 hours per week. Hiring a casual for a fixed term can alleviate the extra pressures that come with those bigger jobs.

Burnout can be managed by setting clear expectations and ensuring all employees feel fully supported to do their best work. The good news is you can reverse burnout and prevent further burnout before it starts.

If you’re experiencing staffing issues, MPi can help. Give us a call to discuss them.


Sarah Mitchell
Mining People International