Burned Out!

A Flattened Football - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Firm

Having a motivated, hardworking team can really make or break your success as a leader (and as an organization). When everyone is positive and working together collaboratively, employees’ goals get met and expectations get exceeded. However, when morale starts to take a hit, things get negatively impacted in a hurry. If you start to see some of the warning signs – increased sick days, increased team friction, lack of enthusiasm, or missed deadlines – your team might be experiencing burn out.

According to a 2018 study by Gallup (Ben Wigert and Sangeeta Agrawal) of 7,500 employees, 23% felt burned out at work very often or always, with 44% saying they felt burned out sometimes. Burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day, and are 2.6 times more likely to be looking for a new job.

Why Does This Matter to Me?

Employees at an Office Experiencing Burn Out - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting FirmSick days taken when employees aren’t actually “sick” are disruptive to the team and are a sign that these employees are at risk of leaving your company to find a new job. If an employee is feeling burned out and is job hunting, then you are at risk for losing that employee and having to embark on the timely and costly process of hiring. In addition, if some employees are unhappy and unmotivated, chances are that this declining morale is also affecting the rest of your team.

Bottom Line: Employee Burnout Is Important and You Have To Do Something About It

A happy team is an effective team that drives business. Happy employees are a win-win for your company – they are happy and you are happy. So, what can you do about it?

1.   Open Lines of Communication

Create multiple ways for employees to communicate with management (directly and anonymously) on various aspects of their working life. Open communication without retribution should be encouraged if you want the truth.

Focus on the following:
–   WorkloadTwo Employees Discussing a Matter - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Firm
–   Career progression
–   Passion/Challenge

You want to get a sense of whether they are feeling overworked and have a good work/life balance, first. Then, you want to get a sense for if they feel fulfilled and happy with what they are doing. Employees are happy to work hard when they are feeling happy, but if one thing starts to slip, they will start to check out.

Read More: Turnover is Killing Your Company – 7 Tips to Make It Stop

2.   Ensure Workloads Are Balanced

An Employee Carrying a Stack of Files - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting FirmBe on the lookout for unbalanced workloads. Some of your best employees may be very dedicated and hard working (and unable to say “No”). As a result, they may be burn out risks because everyone depends on them to always take on extra work. They may be extremely likely to be a turnover risk and if this situation goes unaddressed, you will lose a very valuable employee.

3.   Coach Managerial Level Employees to Delegate

Many people suffer from the belief that no one can do as great a job as they can, and so work begins to pile up on their desks that they don’t have time to deal with. This leads to working extra hours beyond the normal business day and week and leads to stress due to missed deadlines. Help these individuals learn to get lower level employees to take on some of their work and to learn to trust and coach others to enhance their careers as well.

4.   Have Clear Goals, Role Clarity

If employees do not understand what they are working towards, or what is expected of them, morale will start to dip. Teams need a strong vision and need toA Image of a Target With Employees Goal Setting as the Title - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Firm understand the reason why they come into work every day. That vision is part of creating an overall culture for your organization that provides deeper meaning for the working lives of your employees. Work with your management team to create strong goals and measurements for your team, communicate these with your team, and ensure that every team member has a clear understanding of what they can contribute to achieve the goals – and how their own success will be measured.

5.   Create Open Feedback

Once you have goals set in place, have feedback meetings and regular touch points with your team. Do it individually or as a team. Regular touch points with a manager can really boost morale, as it gives employees a regular opportunity to receive feedback and an opportunity to voice their ideas as well.

Employees Giving Feedback and Talking With Management - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting FirmA feedback session can take as little as 30 minutes (or less) and could include the following:

1)  What are you working on?
2)  Any challenges? Anything you need from me?
3)  Praise employee/compliment where appropriate
4)  Any constructive feedback can go here
5)  Next steps (new goals for the week, go over anything discussed in point 2 with timelines)

You want your employees to feel that they are appreciated, but also that they have access to you to work through problems, to get advice and constructive feedback, and help to grow professionally.

6.   Actually Have Work/Life Balance

Employees need time off. Not just “checking your phone while at home” time off, but actual “shut-off-the-phone-and-not-think-about-work” time off. Encourage this time off and mirror it with your employees. When you go on vacation, don’t check your email (trust your team to manage things for you! Enable them!) or if you must, because of the nature of your job, set up specific times where you will check emails and then turn it off for the rest of the day.

Employees Work Life Balance Scale - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting FirmWhen your employees go on vacation, make sure that they have proper coverage and ensure that they know that their work is covered and that anything that comes up will be handled by the rest of the team. Tell them (in a positive way) that you want them to focus on their vacation and not worry about work. Set their mind at ease. While they are gone, work through any issues that arise with the rest of the team and step in personally when necessary. Life or death excepted, contact someone on vacation only as a very last resort.

Be as flexible as possible with working hours and working from home. Work must be completed, and deadlines met, and if that can be accomplished through flexible hours and office time, perfect. If you can’t trust your team to work without close supervision, you may have the wrong team.

Read More: Five Strategies To Help Ensure Your Top Performers Don’t Jump Ship

Check In And Make Your Workplace a Great Place To Be

The best way to prevent employee burnout is to be a manager that knows what’s going on. Check in with your team regularly, notice when things are happening and resolve issues as they arise, be human with your team and keep open lines of communication. Preventing employee burnout is the best thing you can do, because it can be harder to stop burnout once the team is already feeling it.Employees Shaking Hands - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Firm

Work is where your employees are spending a huge majority of their life. Make it a positive place to be, with appreciation, time off, employee perks when possible and fulfilling workloads. Think of what makes you happy, and provide that experience to your team. If you are not sure – ask them! Small steps go a long way and your team will thank you for it by exceeding their deliverables.


Kathbern Management is an executive search consultancy based in Toronto, helping companies find the executives and senior managers who not only have the experience and credentials to fulfill their responsibilities, but also have the emotional and “fit” requirements that will enable them to be successful in a particular environment. We simplify the process and, through our deep research, are able to bring more and better candidates forward than would ever be possible through a do-it-yourself passive advertising campaign.

Contact us today for a free consultation about your key person search.

Join our community to receive more monthly insights

Subscribe - Blog CTA
  • Hint: it comes down to good leadership (Reading time: 5 minutes)   In the early days of my career, I was hired as the general manager of a small ...
  • Don’t rely solely on resumes. (Reading time: 5 minutes)   The frustration of recruiters Imagine the frustration of recruiters when their carefu...
  • Do you know the story behind the development of the Oxford dictionary? It involves a dedicated editor, a mansion housing the criminally insane, and a ...