Addressing Burnout: Tips for Employees and Employers

Dr. Joseph McCloud
May 10, 2024
11 minutes

Employee burnout. We’ve all heard of it, some of us have lived it, and the rest of us are working hard to not catch fire in today’s fast-paced work environment. Burnout can creep up when your work-life balance teeters between double booked meetings and kids in activities on the opposite sides of town. 

Burnout, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, burnout can lead to physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, reduced performance, and a feeling of detachment from one's job. For both employees and employers, addressing burnout is crucial to maintaining a healthy, productive, and satisfying work environment. 

Whether you're navigating as an employee, leading as an employer, or just intrigued by workplace dynamics, this guide is packed with practical strategies to help you fend off burnout effectively.

Understanding Burnout

Before diving into solutions, it’s essential to understand what burnout looks like. Burnout manifests through three primary symptoms:

  1. Exhaustion: Feeling physically and emotionally drained, unable to recover after rest.
  2. Cynicism: Developing a negative, detached attitude towards work and colleagues.
  3. Reduced Efficacy: Experiencing a decrease in performance and productivity, feeling ineffective and unaccomplished.

These symptoms can stem from various workplace stressors, including excessive workloads, lack of control, insufficient rewards, lack of community, perceived unfairness, and conflicting values. Addressing these root causes is key to preventing and managing burnout.

The Impact of "Quiet Quitting" and "The Great Resignation"

The terms "quiet quitting" and "The Great Resignation" have recently become prominent in discussions about workplace culture and employee well-being. "Quiet quitting" refers to employees doing the bare minimum required by their job descriptions, without going above and beyond. This phenomenon often stems from feelings of burnout and disengagement. "The Great Resignation," a term popularized during the COVID-19 pandemic, describes the mass voluntary departure of employees from their jobs in search of better work-life balance, increased pay, and more fulfilling careers.

According to a survey by Gallup, only 34% of employees are engaged at work, with many citing burnout as a primary reason for their disengagement. Additionally, a study by the Harvard Business Review found that employees who experienced burnout were 2.6 times more likely to leave their jobs. Addressing burnout is essential to reversing these trends and fostering a more engaged and satisfied workforce.

Tips for Employees 

  1. Prioritize Self-Care: Because You’re Worth Its
    • Regular Exercise: Move your body. Whether it’s a jog, yoga, or an intense game of tag with your kids, just get moving.
    • Healthy Eating: Step away from the chips and dip, and embrace the veggies. Your brain and waistline will thank you.
    • Adequate Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep. If Netflix asks, "Are you still watching?" during your bedtime, it's time to hit the hay.
    • Mindfulness and Relaxation: Try meditation or deep-breathing exercises. Pretend you’re a monk or just enjoy some quiet time without your phone.
  2. Set Boundaries: Learn to Say No Without Guilt
    • Defined Work Hours: Work when you’re supposed to and log off. The emails can wait.
    • Dedicated Work Space: If you’re working from home, don’t work from bed. Your back and productivity will both improve.
    • Learn to Say No: Politely decline extra tasks. Your sanity is more important than being a superhero.
  3. Seek Support: No Man (or Woman) is an Island
    • Talk to Your Manager: They’re not mind readers. Let them know if you’re struggling.
    • Use Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): These exist for a reason. Use them.
    • Connect with Colleagues: Form a support network. 
  4. Manage Time Effectively: Become a Time Lord
    • Prioritize Tasks: Tackle the big stuff first. Leave the small, annoying tasks for later.
    • Break Down Large Projects: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your project.
    • Use Productivity Tools: Apps like Trello or Asana can help you stay on track. Or check out the Pomodoro technique. Checking off tasks feels like winning at life. 

Tips for Employers: Keep Your Team Sane and Happy

  1. Foster a Supportive Work Environment: Be the Hero, Not the Villain
    • Encourage Open Communication: Create a safe space for employees to voice their concerns without fear of being "that guy."
    • Recognize and Reward Efforts: A little appreciation goes a long way. Everyone loves a pat on the back or a surprise pizza party.
    • Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage breaks, vacations, and a life outside of work. Happy employees are productive employees.
  2. Provide Resources and Training: Equip Your Team for Success
    • Offer Wellness Programs: From fitness challenges to meditation sessions, help employees stay healthy.
    • Provide Access to Counseling Services: Ensure there’s help available for those who need it.
    • Train Managers: Educate them on recognizing burnout and supporting their team. No one likes a clueless boss.
  3. Design Manageable Workloads: Stop Being a Taskmaster
    • Regularly Assess Workloads: Ensure no one is drowning in work while others coast.
    • Implement Flexible Work Arrangements: Remote work or flexible hours can make a huge difference.
    • Delegate Tasks: Spread the work evenly. Even superheroes have sidekicks.
  4. Encourage Professional Development: Invest in Your Team’s Future
    • Provide Learning Opportunities: Offer courses, workshops, and training programs.
    • Promote Career Advancement: Create clear career paths within your organization.
    • Support Personal Goals: Help employees achieve their personal ambitions alongside their professional ones.

Medical Studies and Research on Burnout

  • The Lancet: Burnout is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Turns out stress isn’t just annoying; it’s deadly.
  • American Psychological Association (APA): Workplace stress costs the U.S. economy over $500 billion annually. Stressing about stress is ironically stressful.
  • Harvard Business Review: Companies with high employee engagement report 21% higher profitability. Money talks, folks.

The Mind-Body Connection

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH): Strong social and emotional well-being can lead to lower rates of chronic diseases and longer life expectancy. Friends are literally life-saving.
  • Mayo Clinic: Mindfulness practices can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve heart health. So, keep calm and meditate on.

Case Study: Successful Burnout Prevention Plan

So you notice your team seems totally maxed out – even after a three day weekend. Let’s look at a hypothetical example of a company that successfully implemented strategies to proactively combat burnout:

Sad Slow Company noticed an increase in burnout symptoms among its employees. To address this, they took several steps:

  1. Wellness Initiatives: Introduced a comprehensive wellness program that included fitness classes, mental health workshops, and access to counseling services.
  2. Flexible Working Arrangements: Allowed employees to work from home two days a week and provided flexible start and end times.
  3. Manager Training: Trained managers to recognize burnout signs and support their teams effectively.
  4. Regular Feedback: Implemented regular check-ins and feedback sessions to monitor workloads and stress levels.
  5. Recognition Programs: Launched a recognition program to reward employees for their hard work and achievements.

As a result, Sad & Slow Company saw a significant decrease in burnout symptoms, improved employee satisfaction, and increased productivity. (And they changed their name!)


Burnout is not just a buzzword; it's a stark reality with profound implications for workplace productivity. Employees can prioritize self-care, set boundaries, seek support, and manage their time effectively. Employers can foster a supportive culture, provide resources and training, design manageable workloads, and encourage professional development. Together, these efforts can prevent burnout, promote mental wellness, and enhance overall productivity and job satisfaction.

How can organizations prioritize mental health and well-being to not only retain talent but also cultivate a thriving work culture? Hanu Health can be a powerful first step or a complement to what your organization is already working towards!

At the end of the day, Hanu wants to help foster a work environment where employees feel valued and supported, and where work is fun and fulfilling. The journey to prevent burnout is a shared responsibility, and together, we can create workplaces that truly thrive.