11 Tips for Leaders on Reducing Employee Burnout

To keep the business running smoothly, leaders have to get to the root cause of employee burnout. 

Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights.
Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights. Photos courtesy of the individual members.

Whether your employees have been working remotely, on a hybrid schedule or have been in-person this entire time, the odds are high that they are likely feeling the strain of the last few years. A leader taking the initiative to look deeper within their organization and at the current culture of the organization is a smart first step.

Making an effort to implement change and offer more support can positively impact employees. To help leaders make changes, a panel of Newsweek Expert Forum members each share one strategy for addressing and reducing employee burnout in the workplace.

1. Assess Your Current Culture

I think it's important to take a step back and understand the root cause of employee burnout. Are you understaffed? Are you staffed with the wrong skills? Are you not being realistic with objectives, priorities and timelines? Do you instill a culture that respects individuals, encourages time off to recharge and celebrates success along the way? Start by assessing at the macro level of the corporate culture. - Margie Kiesel, Avaneer Health

2. Examine Your Own Level of Burnout

While leadership is not about you, it starts with you. Begin by assessing your own level of burnout and take action accordingly. Your team is watching you and they model your actions. Once you understand your well-being status, do a pulse check with your team. At the next team meeting, ask everyone how their energy levels are. Let's move from "burnout" to "energy" and fuel it. - Rana DeBoer, Keystone Group International

3. Create Space for Interactions Outside of Work

I can't think of anything better than a Zoom meeting with employees or video game nights where everyone can be themselves for a while and learn about one another. Burnout happens because employees are too wrapped up in work and not wrapped up enough in life. So, let's renew and refresh those lives. Take work off the table and allow your employees to have some virtual fun! - Christopher Davenport, AutoParts4Less

4. Focus on Intrinsic Rewards

To banish burnout, shift your focus from extrinsic rewards like money and status toward intrinsic rewards like accomplishing something meaningful. Focus on qualitative benefits: job content, impact of your work, personal growth and skill development opportunities, your value add and non-tangibles like intellectual stimulation and social interaction. This also reduces the transactional nature of work. - Todd Miller, ENRICH: Create Wealth in Time, Money, and Meaning

5. Lead by Example

Make sure your leadership team proactively encourages breaks and time off. They should not only prioritize their own outside commitments, but push employees to do so as well. Do whatever it takes to build a supportive culture that celebrates a healthy work-life balance. When you make balance a core value, burnout doesn't happen and retention and employee engagement skyrocket. - Jacob Kupietzky, HCT Executive Interim Management & Consulting

6. Start a Conversation About Mental Health

Leaders should encourage employees to take personal mental health days. I think that leaders also need to check in with employees about their mental health and burnout. This means talking openly about mental health and encouraging employees to do the same. Offer employees opportunities for self-care. - Elliott Smith, The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center

7. Conduct Assessments and Surveys to Guide Improvements

You can burn out an employee like you can burn out a candle. I like to conduct frequent psychological assessments of my employees, especially those struggling with work duties. I also conduct surveys to determine whether burnout is something they're experiencing. These insights allow work duties and engagements to be restructured based on the capability of employees and demands of your company. - David Castain, David Castain & Associates

8. Ask What Your Staff Needs

Don't fall into thinking that you know what people need to help with burnout: ask them. Everyone, even before COVID, had work stressors and life stressors. Offering choices and risk-free opportunities to experiment with ways to address needs can convey both creativity and appreciation. If every program you develop succeeds, you probably aren't trying enough in this space. - Alexa Kimball, Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess

9. Allow Employees To Experiment and Try New Things

At our firm, we allow our team members to experiment. We let them switch roles with one another for a certain period so their career aspirations will stay in-house. We want everybody to know that it is OK to try something new and that we provide a safe environment for that. We also provide weekly self-development and stress management sessions for all our employees as part of their benefits package. - Krisztina Veres, Veres Career Consulting

10. Prioritize Employees' Family Lives

Burnout happens when your work-life balance is misaligned. Here at Inception, family is central to everything we do. In fact, we wouldn't be in business if it weren't for my son, Wyatt. From the top down, we encourage our employees to spend time with their families so that they can come back excited to help others build theirs. - TJ Farnsworth, Inception Fertility

11. Create a Culture That Respects Employee Boundaries

Creating a company culture where employees don't feel they need to be tied to their phones 24/7 preemptively prevents employee burnout. To foster that culture, it's important to emphasize the need for work-life balance. We provide five weeks of PTO to support family relationships, as well as a week paid leave for employees to volunteer at a nonprofit organization about which they feel passionate. - Jason Hennessey, Hennessey Digital

The Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.
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