How to Manage Employee Burnout

by | May 5, 2021

employee burnout

Employee burnout is on the rise. In early 2019, The World Health Organization officially recognized it as a medical condition that affects occupational wellbeing. Some blame employers while others blame employees, but rather than assign blame, let’s look at employee burnout with an eye toward understanding and prevention in the future.   

Employee burnout costs were estimated at $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending pre pandemic. In one case, Limeade surveyed their employees before the pandemic and reported employee burnout rates at 42%. A few months into the pandemic the numbers skyrocketed to 72%. Together with the additional costs associated with higher employee turnover, less engagement, and lower productivity, the true expense of employee burnout is even higher. 

What is employee burnout?

The Mayo Clinic defines employee burnout as “a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” Licensed Clinical Psychologist Joe Grasso says, “burnout is a psychological phenomenon comprised of three defining characteristics: exhaustion, depersonalization, and a feeling of ineffectiveness.” The cause of employee burnout may include a lack of control, unclear job expectations, dysfunctional workplace dynamics, or work-life imbalance among other causes, the impact is a loss of physical and/or emotional health. During the pandemic, additional caretaking responsibilities and higher levels of empathy in general have led to poorer wellbeing and greater employee burnout for women. 

How do you identify employee burnout?

Symptoms of employee burnout include lower productivity, health issues, substance abuse, heightened anxiety and depression. More specifically, look for signs that an employee has become critical or cynical, has a hard time tending to their work, lacks energy and is having a hard time being productive, can’t concentrate, has unexplained physical ailments, or is overeating or indulging in other substances. Some of these may not be easily observable by an employer, but may be things to inquire about during one-on-one conversations with managers.  

What do you do about employee burnout?

If you notice employee burnout in your organization, address it with your team. Start by considering your options. Ask questions that challenge you to consider what changes you can make to work loads, expectations, and work life balance. Prioritize your company goals and determine what’s most important how the work can be distributed. Bring in an expert or offer mental health services to your employees to help those who are struggling and those who are on the brink. Companies like Lyra have expertise in providing interventions for employee burnout. Encouraging good self-care in your company culture will go a long way toward reversing employee burnout.

How do you prevent employee burnout in the future? 

Organizations are acutely challenged by both the reality and the threat of employee burnout. As such, many health programs help organizations focus on the prevention of mental and physical declines through proactive interventions. Lyra, for example, offers a workplace check-up to see how well your company is set up to support your employee’s mental health and then offers appropriate organizational support to prevent employee burnout. Restore Resilience is another program designed to proactively support your team member’s health. Internal shifts in corporate culture, communication, and return-to-work plan may also be necessary to prevent employee burnout on your team. 

By understanding, identifying, intervening, and preventing employee burnout, your organization will be leading the charge to tend to the wellbeing of your employees in the months and years to come.  

Visit to see how BetterYou can help your organization prevent employee burnout by putting employees’ physical and mental health first.

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