Put Out the Fire Before it Starts: Preventing Job Burnout

As a manager, it’s easy to get so caught up in business dynamics that you begin to view your employees more as variables of a workflow equation, and less as people with feelings and lives outside the office. Let’s face it: the job needs to get done, and if that job requires more than the a typical 8-hour day, your staff is expected to sacrifice for the company and put in the extra time and work.

However, when the extra hours and extra work start piling up, your employees are at risk of job burnout — defined by The Mayo Clinic as “a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” To put it simply, some employees suffering from burnout will act like shells of themselves.

If your company’s environment requires more than a standard amount of work from its employees, you need to implement safeguards against employee exhaustion. So, here are a few ways to prevent job burnout from overtaking the office.

Encourage breaks

Some people work best by powering through until the job is complete. Others need time away from their work to maintain or regain their optimal energy. The worst thing you can do to prevent burnout is treat breaks like the plague. Employees don’t need to be at their desk every minute of the day. Let it be known to your employees that you recommend they step away from the desk to chill out when feeling stressed or tired. Set up a break room where employees can catch up with their colleagues, as well as a quiet/meditation room where they can get away.


You have many duties as a manager, and evaluating your employees is high on the list. However, you don’t always have time to focus on each individual’s body language or energy level. An obvious red flag of job burnout is if an employee’s work effort/quality dips; however, many employees can maintain a high level of production while experiencing burnout. These “fight through it” employees aren’t likely to come to you and explain that they are worn out. Make life easier for them by issuing self-evaluations on a regular basis. These evaluations shouldn’t focus on their actual work — instead, ask questions about each employee’s day-to-day feelings, energy level, and their level of satisfaction inside and outside the office. Based on their answers, you’ll be able to infer whether or not they are struggling, and whether or not you need to step in and help them recover.

Show your appreciation

Your employees want to hear that they are doing a great job. Your most energetic and devoted employees are your MVPs, and just like in sports, MVPs get recognized for their outstanding efforts. Holding a ceremony or handing out awards may not be necessary — a one-on-one vote of confidence will do wonders and make their day. Praising your hard-working employees can motivate and help push them through the tough times.

That right balance can be difficult for anyone to achieve, especially when there is a lot of important work to do every day. Help alleviate some stress and reduce burnout by setting up a supportive and comfortable environment every day.

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