6 Facts about Burnout Leaders Need to Understand

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This article is a guest post provided by Bridget Hernandez  It is provided to supplement the interview with Peter Weng and Rich Fernandez, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  Their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Mindfulness and the Benefits in the Work Place aired on Tuesday, April 20th, 2021.


Being an executive is not an easy position to be in. Their primary duty is to accomplish the goals of the organization while leading others effectively. They must find a balance between successfully fulfilling the goals and yet not overwhelming their employees.  Burning out employees and causing stress and anxiety to manifest within the company goes contrary to effective leadership.

According to Forbes, 96% of employees believe that empathy is a key ingredient for employee retention, yet 61% of employees feel burned out on the job. In addition, Small Biz Genius reported that 90% of employees are willing to stay on board if the company takes action on the feedback they gather. Understandably, only 28% of employees stated that their company is great in terms of coaching, recognition, and overall employee engagement.

Burnout is nothing to scoff at as it can cause severe issues for your employees and their quality of work if you manage it incorrectly. That being said, let’s take a look at some hard facts about burnout, which leaders should be aware of in the post-COVID-19 world.


1. What are the Symptoms of Employee Burnout?

Let’s talk about the common tells of employee burnout before we delve further into the facts surrounding the issue. The best way in which you can help your employees or colleagues deal with burnout is to simply recognize it quickly once it manifests.

We are all prone to burnout, especially with the added stress of insecure employment prospects and social distancing as prescribed by the World Health Organization. Thus, some of the most common and telling ways in which you can tell someone is burned out is by recognizing the following symptoms:

  • Complaints about physical and mental fatigue
  • Recent lack of motivation and poor mood
  • Drops in work performance and output
  • Quieter and less communicative than before
  • Loss of appetite and self-medication at work
  • Recognizable lack of sleep and twitchiness

2. Monotony and Stagnation Lead to Burnout

Inherently, we all crave a dynamic and exciting workflow. Depending on the type of work your company does, this may or may not be possible. Customer support agents or sales specialists have a set of standard obligations that need tending day in and day out.

As a leader, your job is to make the work environment as dynamic and lively as possible. Monotonous work can be mind-numbing even for experts who are fully dedicated to their careers. Find ways to mix up the workflow of your employees as much as possible by introducing team duties, brainstorming meetings, and group breaks or lunchtime.

3. No Work Can Be Done Efficiently Under Burnout

High-performing individuals on your team will only perform well for a certain amount of time. Once their “high” has passed, burnout can set in quickly. Avoid putting too much pressure on single individuals, no matter how good they may be at their work. Delegate workload based on the number of employees and duties which need tending to strike a better balance. This can mitigate the effects of pressure on your team and lower the odds of burnout.

Steven Riley, Head of HR and Content Writer at Trust My Paper, said that: “It doesn’t matter if your employees load/unload goods physically, operate support phones, or write articles online – burnout can happen at any time. An important task can wait until tomorrow if your employees are already on edge and simply want to go home for the day. If burnout sets in, you will lose time regardless of the work done under pressure – learn to take it easy.”

4. Employee Burnout Can Spread Easily

Unfortunately, burnout is contagious and can cause severe issues for your team. This makes it important to address burnout on an individual basis and not wait for a group of people to raise their voices at once. An effective way to combat burnout is to introduce one-on-one coaching and team meetings that don’t revolve around work.

Simply talk about your staff’s wellbeing, what you can improve, and how everyone is doing with the increased workload. You can also introduce a rotating “free day” for everyone on the staff to work from home for a day in order to refocus. As we’ve mentioned, proper employee engagement is oftentimes all it takes to avoid burnout in your team. Be proactive and talk to your staff about how they feel – they will appreciate the gesture immensely.

5. Remote Work Can Still Cause Burnout

Speaking of remote work management, it too is not exempt from burnout. Modern employees often have trouble separating work from private life, and remote work doesn’t help in that regard. While they lack contact with colleagues, they are also constantly sent more and more work, which needs to be done “ASAP,” or else.

Remote work is a tool to be used in order to make workflow easier – not as a means to make employees work more than before. Thus, be extra wary of remote work management and pay close attention to your staff’s mental wellbeing if you operate remotely. Help your employees separate private obligations from work-related duties, and their risk of burnout will drop off organically as a result.

6. What are the Common Causes of Employee Burnout?

Before we wrap up, let’s tackle the common causes which lead to employee burnout. Leaders and managers typically attribute burnout to employees and distance themselves from any agency in the matter.

The truth is far from that simple, as managers can cause said burnout more often than not. If you avoid the following points in your team management efforts, burnout should become less of an issue. However, every individual is a human being in and of themselves – learn to recognize your staff’s “tells” when it comes to burnout.

  • Poor recognition of accomplished tasks (reward is even more work)
  • Toxic and unsupportive team culture (multiple people are burned out)
  • Incorrect or insufficient work instructions (time wasted on fixing mistakes)
  • Outright punishment for failed tasks (minus to income or vacation days)
  • Inherent requirement for employees to multitask (one employee, two jobs)
  • Lack of care or channels for employee feedback (no bottom-up communication)

We’re all Only Human (Conclusion)

Everyone needs and deserves some time off before serious burnout sets in. If left unmanaged, burnout can have long-term consequences for your staff and cause them to leave the company outright due to poor employee engagement.

Even if you choose to shift to remote work conditions, burnout can seep in and wreak havoc in your ranks without you knowing about it. Be proactive, be responsible, and be the leader your staff deserves to have at the helm – they will undoubtedly respond to your actions in kind.


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Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.


About the Author

Bridgette Hernandez is a professional Content Writer at Subjecto and Chief Editor at Supreme Dissertations writing services. Her career is focused on writing, publishing, and contributions to a number of industries, including digital marketing, academic writing, and business development, among others. Bridgette is a close associate and guest writer with Top Essay Writing, where she works on academic research and term papers for students in need. In her spare time, Bridgette is a reader, swimmer, and chef.