Feeling burnt out at work is becoming all too common. Many of us who’ve experienced it have even gone through it more than once.
When you look into who’s most likely to get burnt out at work, it’s actually not surprising.
When someone is happy to work 9-5, or whatever their hours may be, they can finish their shift or close their laptop and be done for the day, disconnecting to spend time on other projects or hobbies.
Those of us who love what we do are more likely to wind up burnt out at work. That’s because we’re more likely to work longer hours and struggle to leave work at the end of the day. This means we work harder and push ourselves harder, forgetting to pace ourselves and factor in time for self-care.
People are also more likely to get burnt out at work when we’re neurodivergent or part of another underrepresented group. We have to constantly try to adapt to how the world works—which is usually not in our favor.
Masking, or covering, where someone tries to hide or tone down one or more of their identities, is also incredibly draining. It’s something a lot of people feel they have to do to be successful. Masking and covering take a lot of mental energy to sustain, too.
So, what can you, as an employer, do to prevent employees from feeling burnt out at work?
Here are a few starting points:
Set realistic deadlines
If an employee tells you something will take a month to do, don’t give them two weeks.
This creates additional pressure, especially if they’re a people pleaser. That additional pressure is subconsciously (or maybe consciously) draining. They’ll end up with less energy to work on the project because they’re so busy worrying.
Sure, they may meet the unrealistic deadline, but is the damage to their physical and/or mental health really worth it?
Offer flexible working
You know something that really didn’t help when I was becoming burnt out at work? Forcing myself to get up early.
I’m just not a morning person. When I do get up early, I like to take things slowly.
Businesses that don’t offer flexible working are increasingly missing out on talent, as it’s now one of the deciding factors for many people when they’re looking for a new job.
Flexible working has many benefits, from allowing employees to work while caring for children, to helping them better manage their health conditions.
If someone is getting burnt out at work, allowing them that extra hour in bed instead of commuting into work can make a bigger difference than you may think. While sleep won’t solve everything, it will restore their energy. Spending time on crowded public transport or waiting in traffic will have the opposite effect.
Encourage hobbies outside of work
Part of enjoying what you do can mean studying it outside of work hours. For instance, staying up on the latest trends, learning a new programming language or social media app, etc.
However, it’s important that we all disconnect from work sometimes. Having hobbies unrelated to work can help with this.
You could encourage these by asking what people like to do and setting up channels or krowds for popular hobbies, like gardening, cooking, or even watching TV.
Set clear boundaries
Boundaries are really important when it comes to preventing people from becoming burnt out at work. Being unable to disconnect is part of the problem. If someone feels like they have to reply to that email or chat message from their boss, or they might lose their job, it doesn’t set healthy boundaries or show them respect.
I get needing to jot an idea down so that you don’t forget it. It’s something I do all the time. But instead of messaging outside of work hours, could you write it on a note-taking app? Or schedule the email to go out during work hours, so that you’re not disturbing someone’s disconnection time?
It’s rare that things are ever as urgent as we convince ourselves that they are. Most things can wait until morning.
Can you offer discounted therapy through your employee perks program? Or a meditation app? Maybe another wellness-focused app?
There are lots of small ways that you can offer support. These include app partnerships and discounts or sharing your own story so those experiencing something similar feel less alone.
It’s also important that managers are open to listening. They need to understand how important mental health is and pay attention when their team members tell them they’re struggling, their workload is unattainable, or maybe something is happening in their personal life that’s making things particularly challenging for them.
Burnout—and the period as someone is creeping up the hill, unaware they’re about to fall off a cliff—can happen without us noticing. It also changes how someone thinks, feels, and works.
So, if you notice a change in how someone works, rather than feeling annoyed with them, be patient with them.
Instead of jumping to conclusions, ask what’s wrong. They may not have noticed that what’s happening in their personal life is affecting their work life.
Burnout is a serious health problem, and it’s on employers to prevent it from happening to their employees. Setting unrealistic deadlines, disrespecting—or not setting—boundaries, and expecting work to be someone’s life are all negative things employers can do that put their employees one step closer to getting burnt out at work.
It’s up to employers to set an example. You don’t have to make grand gestures. Simply drawing clear boundaries, being realistic with deadlines, and paying attention to what could be impacting employees’ wellness can all help to prevent employees from falling off the burnout cliff.
Another opportunity to protect your team against becoming burnt out at work is to ensure they have strong connections with colleagues. Workrowd can help by making it easy for people to tap into all your employee groups, programs, and events from day one. Supportive relationships can go a long way towards keeping employees engaged, well, and happy in their roles. Send us a note at email@example.com to learn more.