Sick burn: How to stop your employees burning out

Burnout. Commonly manifesting itself in your employees in the form of increased absenteeism, anxiety, unexplained emotional outbursts, weight fluctuations and a potential stress claim.

At this stage it all may be too hard, perhaps your employee needs a ‘less demanding role’ or to exit the company. Then it’s time to line up your next burnout – the colleague or colleagues that had to pick up the extra work and who now live in fear of being next.

What steps can your organisation take, so that no one is feeling the burn?

In the nick of time

According to a recent study by The Australian National University of over 8,000 full time working Australians, employees working more than 39 hours are putting their health at risk.

Lead researcher Dr Huong Dinh warns this is a wide scale problem, with two in three Australians in full-time employment currently work more than 40 hours a week.

However it’s not just about enforcing reasonable work hours, reasonable hours mean nothing if there's too much work to be done, in fact stress levels are more likely to increase.

Work with your employees on how they are structuring their day; are there areas where they require training to improve efficiency and tasks that could be streamlined or assigned elsewhere where there is capacity?

Consider performing a team wide job analysis; short term monitoring of your teams tasks and timeframes to see where efficiencies can be gained, time wasters removed and opportunities added for staff to have breaks away from their desk to de-stress and relax.

At this stage it may also be worth re-evaluating what projects you and your team are able to take on and if extra resourcing is required.

Finally, ensure you provide your employees with clear expectations for the future and obtain confirmation that each employee understands, accepts and can realistically manage those expectations.


As a former burnt out lawyer, Paula Davis-Laack, author of Pressure Proof reflected on how support was the key to help her through her burnout “The more I burned out, the more I just wanted to hole up in my office and avoid people, and that was exactly the opposite of what I should have been doing. I didn’t want to let people know how awful I was really feeling because I thought it meant I was weak. It takes time and effort to maintain social connections, but supportive people are the best inoculation against burnout.”

Talk to your employees; ask them if they are ok and if they are taking care of themselves.

Intentionally and publically recognise your employee’s successes and victories. This may help as employees experiencing burnout may have a significant loss of confidence in their overall competency.

For more information on building a resilient workforce, click here to read our guide.

Quality control

Consider what opportunities there are to give employees more control over their tasks, projects, or deadlines. Brit Poulson, a leadership development coordinator who consults with Fortune 500 companies, advises that many companies now set aside time each week when employees can work on their own projects, as long as those efforts further the company's goals.

If you’re concerned your organisation has employees at risk of burn out and would like talk through our guide, connect with GB, the experts in personal injury.

New call-to-action

Sign up to GB Advantage