Prolonged exposure to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job will increase the likelihood of burnout. Employers who see once highly engaged employees experiencing exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency should beware that those employees may soon exhibit traits on the other end of the spectrum such as low productivity and even worse, employers could start losing their most valuable workers.

The most common causes of burnout can include:

Work and time overload


Role conflict and ambiguity

Lack of managerial support

Lack of feedback

Lack of participation in decision-making

Lack of fairness and equity

Values disconnect

Digital Health

For an employer with employees going through such issues, there may be more cases of absenteeism, higher turnover and in some cases, a contagious effect on other employees.

Burnout is preventable. A strong management team has to be keenly aware of its employees and some of the causes of burnout festering in the workplace.

Ways to prevent burnout:

  1. Keep a close eye on your employees. If people are working to and beyond their capacity, it’s likely time for a break. Managers have to help by adjusting workloads and being aware when someone is taking on too much or simply overworked. And while breaks and schedule shifts are important, managers should also focus on the root causes of the burnout, as well.
  2. Positivity should not be underrated or overlooked. Where some people see stress, others see an exciting challenge. Knowing how your employees view their situations can make a difference in their outlooks. As a result, managers can better help people deal with situations before it gets to the burnout stage. Spread positive messages and make sure employees are taking the time they need for themselves.
  3. Create an open and supportive environment. A more social environment allows people to feel more relaxed and better able to share their issues and problems. Social support positively relates to important factors that impact stress, health, well-being and engagement. Employers can help foster that support among employees and help prevent or treat burnout before it gets too acute.
  4. Help employees connect to their purpose. Employees thrive on connection to their work and other employees, and with a greater connection comes a better attitude towards stressful work situations. Communication is key and helping employees know how their work is connected to the overall mission of the company will help employees find a purpose that can guide them through rough times.

Overall, managers and employers have to stay in close touch with their employees and keep a close eye on moods and workloads. By doing this, they not only help employees feel connected and better-able to tackle stressful work situations, they also will help their bottom line be attracting and retaining the best people in their workforce.

  1. Digital Health

Too much time spent connected can cause mental health issues. Currently there is proposed legislation in the America would give employees the “right to disconnect” and penalize employers who require employees to check email or take calls after business hours. The bill, modelled after legislation passed in France, would be the first of its kind in the U.S.

Today’s “always on” workplace mentality is bad for employee productivity with studies on employee burnout indicating that nearly 60% of tech workers suffer from burnout. The side effects of burnout range from mental health issues such as depression to physical issues such as heart disease.

As awareness grows about the harmful effects of too much technology and potential for addiction, employers would do well to encourage healthier habits. Tech breaks as well as temporarily cutting off communication altogether are suggested. Less extreme techniques such as tech-free mindfulness and meditation breaks are growing in usage. Poor digital habits are taking a toll on our health and overall productivity and adding to employee burnout.

For more advice on addressing burnout in the workplace contact EAP Assist.