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Workplace Burnout – Everything You Should Know

One of the most common topics of conversation with coaching clients and colleagues today centres around the burnout. Interestingly enough, workplace burnout affects organizations and businesses as it does individuals. Burnout is a state or condition in which one experiences fatigue, exhaustion, or frustration as a result of an intense focus on or attention to a goal, a cause, a lifestyle or a relationship that fails to produce the expected reward. You can find effective ways to deal with severe workplace burnout on 

There is a burnout formula: expectation divided by the reality that does not meet your expectations, regardless of the effort you spend, equals burnout. There is no direct correlation or relationship between hard work and burnout. There is, however, a direct correlation or relationship between hard work that produces little or no reward, and burnout. In fact, many folks do actually work to exhaustion and they do achieve recognition, acknowledgement and reward. For these folks, burnout is not a part of the equation.


Am I experiencing burnout?

Burnout is a slow burn. Burnout is not an event; it's a process. Burnout is similar to erosion. One day you see a big rock at the bottom of the waterfall. One day you come back and it is half of its original size. Then one day it becomes a small stone; then gravel. Burnout is a dangerous internal erosion and damage.

The early symptoms of burnout include a deep sense of fatigue, tiredness or fatigue that seems to extend from the surface of your skin, through the tissue, ligaments, muscles, and deep into your bones and into the very cells of your body. Emotionally, you feel you are at or near the end of your emotional rope.

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How To Address Poor Workload Management

You have noticed that your employee's motivation is low mainly because of stress due to unmanageable workload. What can you do? The fastest conclusion to reach is that there is a problem with time management- and employees do not understand how to manage their time well. Signing them up for a time management class seems simple enough and you may think it will yield effective results. However, what if time management is not the underlying issue?


The problem may be simple: too much work. An overburdened employee is one who does not slack off, is focused on work with minimal breaks but yet cannot manage to complete all the tasks at hand. If an employee is consistently overworked, she/he may slowly become disengaged or disheartened. This will lead to poor workload management and anxiety at work.

As a manager, it is your job to be aware of the symptoms of bad workload management, as discussed above.

Now that you have recognized the issue, analyze the situation.

  • Is this workload issue contained to one employee or is it seen throughout the entire department?
  • Does the problem occur regularly or all the time?

Sit down and take the time to answer these questions because it will determine what action to take.

If this is an individual problem with employees, meet with them and talk about what happened. By touching the base, you will understand / her point of view. If the employee is going through personal problems, you can consider reducing some of the stress by distributing the workload to other employees for a little bit.

However, if some employees feel that they are overworked or if this problem occurs more often than the typical fluctuations, additional measures should be taken. A possible solution might be to analyze whether you, as a manager, encourage workers or compensate them fairly. You want to make sure that your employees enjoy working with you and do not leave.