There are many reasons why a team member may experience burnout at work.
Burnout can be a result of workplace or individual factors, or both.
Are you prepared to support your team members who may be struggling?
Do you know who may be at higher risk?
The most common causes of work-related stress are:
heavy workload (caused by either employer, employee, or both)
balancing work and personal life (raising children, caring for aging parents, supporting health issues for self or others etc). source
perceived lack of control at work
feeling a lack of support or connection
Who is at higher risk of burnout?
Team members ages 25-54
Those working in management positions
Roles requiring a University degree and above
A recent Harvard Business Review article shares that in a global survey across multiple industries, more than half of managers reported feeling burned out at work.
I'm not surprised.
Let's take this away from the statistics for a minute, and talk about some other workplace and individual personality factors that can show up in the real world.
Is my team at risk of burnout?
While I'm not a councillor or therapist, I see many common burnout threads in the workplaces where I teach, train and consult. Some of these I have experienced myself on my own mental health and burnout journey. In addition to the above factors, you might recognize some of these in your workplace team.
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Working more/overworking - on the surface, a team member who is working extra, or more than asked/expected, might seem like a dream employee. However, sometimes people work as a strategy to avoid other, deeper emotions, or to avoid things that might be going on in their personal lives.
Anxiety - Those with anxiety (diagnosed or undiagnosed) or excessive worry, may work longer hours than required if they worry about their performance, the expectations of other team members, or how they will be perceived by others.
Workplace culture - If the workplace subscribes to a “hustle” culture OR if the workplace is a fast-paced environment with frequent tight deadlines OR if a team member has previous worked in an environment that subscribed to an “always on” mentality.
Difficulty with boundaries - Technology has blurred the lines between work life and home life. Those who have difficulty with boundaries (or who have never been taught boundaries) may struggle to turn work "off" and may feel obligated to respond to work emails or continue working during their personal hours.
Unclear job descriptions or lack of clarity about expectations of work - Are you taking the time to have real, open, honest conversations with your team members about what their work entails? One of the biggest sources of frustration I hear from employees is that their manager or team leader does not have a solid understanding of the time it takes to perform tasks. For example, asking if they can “quickly” complete something, or get something done by end of day, when in reality, the task takes 2-3 hours to complete. Clearer communication strategies and approaches can help here.
High performers - High performers may feel like they have everything under control. They say yes because they have great skills and know how to get things done. Over time, always saying yes, or always working at a fast pace may lead to burnout. I always encourage team leaders to consider that high performers are at risk for burnout (I know, because I am one!)
Lack of support - I meet many people leaders who FEEL they are supportive and have the wonderful intentions of being supportive. They may say “come to me at any time” but they are also extremely busy themselves and are not truly connected to their team. Both words AND actions matter. Lack of support and connection is a key element of burnout risk.
If any (or all) of the above are present, it's time to start thinking about building your skills around burnout prevention!
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This is your year to make real change with your team
✅ build psychological safety skills
✅ learn how to prevent burnout within your workplace team BEFORE it leads to absences, sick & stress leave and turnover
The first course of the Burnout Prevention Leadership Program is Foundations.
This one day interactive course (delivered virtually with a small cohort) covers:
✴ Tangible real-world reasons WHY burnout and mental health challenges happen (or are increased by) our workplace.
✴ Identify and unpack where psychological safety "leaks" are happening within your team and work environment.
✴ Build skills that you can bring directly into your workplace to support mental well being and burnout prevention.
✴ Skills for building trust with your team (in groups and 1-1).
Sound like the right fit? Click below for more details and to sign up for the next Foundations course cohort.
Hi, I'm Alison and welcome to the blog.
I have been a speaker and trainer for 17 years. I offer Mental Health First Aid in Canada and work with workplaces to improve mental wellbeing and psychological safety and reduce stress and burnout.