Despite burnout being so common, many managers aren’t aware of why burnout happens or how to keep it from happening. Being able to understand burnout, its causes, and how to prevent it is essential in order to maintain a positive environment and keep the best talent on the team

Causes of Burnout

Work-Related Factors

  1. Job Demands– Overwhelming job demands
  2. Role Conflict– Conflicting job demands
  3. Role Ambiguity– A lack of adequate information to do the job well.
  4. Lack of Appropriate Resources– Improper training and/or inadequate resources to execute the job effectively
  5. Lack of Social Support– Social support comes from all parties including, loved ones, co-workers and even superiors
  6. Lack of Feedback– Feedback is like hard work, if you don’t give it, you’ll never get exactly what you want.
  7. Little Participation in Decision Making– The less involved employees are in decision making processes, the higher the rates of burnout.

Personality Factors

  1. Not having a sense of control over events and lacking an openness to change are associated with higher burnout scores.
  2. Burnout is higher among individuals who have an external locus of control
  3. Burned-out individuals cope with stressful events in a passive and defensive way

Combination of Personality and Work-related factors

  1. Workload Mismatch– Overloaded with work or performing the wrong kind of work.
  2. Mismatch in Control– insufficient control over the resources needed to do their work effectively or insufficient authority to pursue their work in the most effective manner.
  3. Lack of Appropriate Awards– includes insufficient financial rewards and lack of appreciation or recognition
  4. Loss of a Positive Connection with Others– Feeling ostracised and/or not sharing similar values with people in the workplace
  5. Unfairness– Unequal workload or unequal allocation of rewards such as a pay rise or promotion in the workplace
  6. Conflict between values– Doing something unethical or not in accordance with their own values.

Burnout is an individual experience that is influenced by social, organisational, personality factors, and can even be an interaction among all three. The relationship of the individual with their work can be disrupted by any one, or a combination of, these factors resulting in burnout.

How can Managers help prevent burnout in the workplace?

  1. Be Realistic When Assigning Tasks. Delegate an amount of work that is challenging, but not overwhelming.
  2. Follow the Passion. Ensure that each member of the team is in the position they feel most passionate about. Create new positions or be willing to move skilled employees to different positions if they feel more passionate about them.
  3. Allow Side Projects. Allow employees to spend some time working on a work-related side project that they feel passionate about. For instance, some of Google’s most innovative ideas came from an employee’s side project.
  4. Keep Reasonable Work Hours. Employees differ on how many hours they can work. Some will devote 120 hours a week and have no qualms about it. Others will try to get out of working a full 40. Don’t ask too much of employees. Allow for sick days, paid time off, and vacation days.
  5. Schedule Breaks. Allow and encourage employees to have a full one-hour lunch as well as 15 minute breaks throughout the day. They should use the time to take a walk, socialise, address their personal things or just use the time to relax and rest.
  6. Be Flexible. When a deadline or goal is unrealistic, change it so it is attainable. If someone who is assigned a task isn’t the right person for the job, re-assign it.
  7. Don’t Spread the Team Too Thin. Reduce the number of parallel tasks that an individual or team is working on. Ensure that they are not overwhelmed with too many work from all different areas.
  8. Define Concrete Roles. Ensure that each team member has a specific job description, understands their role, and is aware of their expected contribution to the company.
  9. Equip the Team with Proper Tools. Set employees up for success with the right tools to execute the task. Furthermore, ensure that there are sufficient funds to execute strategies and plans effectively.


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