May 25, 2018

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Don't Be Burned by Employee Burnout


Forty percent of employees say that their workload is unreasonable. Many are, therefore, mentally and physically exhausted on their jobs. This results in a lack of enthusiasm, tardiness, day dreaming, and a drop in the productivity and quality of their work. This burnout is not surprising because of:

  • Downsizing

    Many organizations today are operating with fewer employees. In addition to their own work, employees must perform the work of those who have left the company.

  • Lack of Personal Growth

    Organizations have slashed their training and professional development budgets. As a result, employees are not learning and developing.

  • Lack of Challenge

    Since most organizations are not growing, there are fewer opportunities for employees to learn new skills. Over time, many become bored with their jobs.

  • Flattening of Organizations

    As a cost savings measure, many organizations have decreased the number of middle managers. Those who at one time supervised 3 or 4 people are now supervising 9 or 10. There are also fewer opportunities for individual contributors to be promoted to the supervisory ranks.

  • Staffing Shortages

    Despite the large number of unemployed workers, in sectors such as healthcare there are shortages of trained and experienced staff. The result is that many long time employees must work hours typically reserved for new employees who have not paid their dues to the organization -- nights, weekends, and rotating shifts.

  • Rapid Change

    Organizations today are changing rapidly to respond to the turbulent environment. Layoffs, mergers, and constant organizational restructuring have greatly increased the stress level of employees.


  1. Enrich Jobs

    Instead of merely expanding jobs horizontally by increasing the amount of duties, look to expand them vertically through enrichment. Job enrichment means elevating the skill level by providing more decision-making authority, challenge, and variety.

  2. Create Personal Development Plans for Employees

    Help employees avoid stagnation by supporting their personal growth. Sit down with each employee and craft personal development plans for them that will provide opportunities to maximize the use of their skills and abilities.

  3. Encourage Employees to Stay Healthy

    Partner with your human resource department or healthcare staff to communicate to employees what they can do to reduce burnout, stress, and exhaustion.

  4. Retrain Instead of Hiring New Talent

    Rather than hire additional employees to address a need for new skills, consider retraining current loyal employees. This will reinvigorate employees by providing them with a fresh new start.

  5. Job Rotation

    Move employees around to new positions within the organization. This cross-training will increase their overall value, provide them with variety, and make it easier to find fill-in replacements for absentees.

  6. Thank Employees

    Tell them that you know they are working hard and that you appreciate their efforts. This kind of simple acknowledgement can go a long way to reduce stress.

  7. Communicate Openly, Honestly, and Often

    Employees know that their organizations must continue to adapt to survive. What they really want is to be informed in an open and honest manner about any changes that are taking place. When employees know that they will consistently receive the straight truth, they will be less anxious day-to-day.

- Bruce L. Katcher

Bruce Katcher, PhD is President of Discovery Surveys, Inc. His firm conducts customized employee opinion and customer satisfaction surveys. Learn more at He can be reached at or 888-784-4367.