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How Can I Help My Staff Avoid Burn-Out?

Published November 26, 2021 (last updated May 19, 2022) -
employee not suffering from burnout

The modern work environment seems to encourage the ‘rockstar’ worker who arrives early, leaves late, has no lunch-hour, and replies to emails at bedtime. While it’s important to have committed employees who are diligent and hardworking, it’s a fine line between HERO employee and a burn-out resentful exhausted one! Whether your business is trying to get everything completed for a deadline or all up and running for a busy period, be aware some staff may be heading for burn-out and overwhelm.   

Your star-manager maybe comfortable arriving early and working late but it can be counterproductive in the long run. One burn-out employee can negatively impact your team and business.

As employers it’s valuable to recognise when your staff and managers may be feeling overwhelmed with their workload, and work out how to support employees.

What Are Signs Of Burn-out? 

  • Frustration and irritability with co-workers 
  • Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating  
  • Diminished pride in work 
  • Negativity whereas before they were positive 

Why Would My Employees Suffer From Burn-out? 

Some employees are more predisposed to burn out than others. They may be the types that are perfectionists, or worriers or just love doing a good job, with huge pride in their work. Whatever their motivation is, it’s their inability to look after themselves and wanting to do a great job that ultimately burns them out and ironically be able to do their job.  

They are the types who won’t ask for too much help or support. Therefore, they may be struggling and unable to voice it. As an employer you may not notice this.

It may be escalating work volume, or rapidly moving work deadlines during busy seasonal periods, that forces the employee to think that they must work harder and harder to meet what they consider are their sole obligations.  

This kind of ‘I must do it all alone myself’ is exactly the kind of attitude that helps people reach burn out.  

What Can I Do To Help Staff Avoid Burn-Out? 

Expectations  

Remind your employee what your expectations are, make it clear they aren’t expected to work extra hours regularly or daily. Of course, during a busy period or deadline it is expected to work longer than anticipated. But if they are unable to balance their work with their personal life, missing family events, etc, then it is time to have a conversation with them.

Ask them directly what support they need, try to be open to suggestions and respond with positivity even if you can’t offer immediate support, say that you will consider options to support the staff member better during the busier times.  

Delegate 

Remind the employee to delegate when they can. And importantly that you are supporting them in this, create a dialogue where you can both delegate. In smaller businesses, workers might hesitate to ask for help from the owner or consider ‘help’ as a personal weakness. Encourage dialogue and an emphasis on team work, so they know how to delegate or collaborate when necessary.

Foster a safe space where staff members feel they can admit when they need more time and support.  

Learn To Say No 

Everyone has learnt that a ‘can-do’ attitude will get them far, but when is this too much? Again, if the staff member is missing meals, lunch breaks and is rushing their work, cutting corners in a desperate attempt to tick things off a never-ending to-do list… Then it’s time to support them by instructing them when it’s okay, to say no and push back to customers, clients or other staff members.  

It’s easy to think another sale, another success, but success is also measured in longevity and if you are burning out all your staff, then where is the success in that? 

Let staff know they can say no, and let them know they are supported in pushing back sometimes.  

Practical Actions You Can Take 

  • Talk to staff and ask them directly what support they need to prepare for expected busy times.  
  • Hire casuals or fixed term staff if this will help your permanent employees 
  • Arrange a busy periods protocol for work volume delegation 
  • Make work volumes limits and expectations clear  

Remember employees who can suffer from burn-out are the types who put a lot of pressure on themselves, so help them out by taking some pressure off. Taking care of your employees is taking care of your business.  

Considering hiring casuals this season? Should you hire casuals or fixed term staff? Check out our e-guide for in-depth easy to read info. If you need workplace employment relations advice, then call us now for free initial advice.

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About Employsure

Employsure is one of Australia’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 30,000 clients in ANZ. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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