Workers Burnout: How to help a worker | Jobgether

Feb 1, 2023
 Workers Burnout: How to help a worker

Workers burnout is a growing concern among office and remote workers, with recent studies showing that nearly two-third of American workers are experiencing burnout symptoms. How can companies help burned out employees and what can be done to prevent it? Our answers.

What is burnout?

According to the World Health Organization's definition, worker burnout is characterized by "a feeling of intense fatigue, loss of control and inability to achieve concrete results at work." It can affect all professions, and it does not discriminate. Both men and women can be affected by it. Its harmful consequences are physical, mental and emotional. In other words, burn out affects the whole person.

Signs of employee burnout. How to recognize it?

There are various signs that can help you detect whether one or more employees are suffering from burnout. These include:

A loss of energy and motivation

A burnout employee feels work exhaustion and may even experience panic attacks and anxiety. The stress is continuous, the sleepless nights multiply, with the nagging feeling of being unable to fulfill one's missions. In the end, all motivation is lost. 

Difficulty concentrating

Obviously, with the help of stress and extreme fatigue, it becomes very difficult to concentrate. It is not surprising, under these conditions, that tasks become more and more difficult to perform. They end up taking an inordinate amount of time, with productivity being affected in turn. Delays accumulate, causing fatigue and additional stress. A vicious circle is then set in motion from which it can be very difficult to escape

A negative attitude towards work

Those who are suffering from employee burnout signs may develop a cynical attitude towards their work. Some will even go further, increasing the number of conflicts with their colleagues or manager. 

An increase in absenteeism

The employee's personal health is affected, and he or she will take more sick days. Unfortunately, if not seriously treated, sick leave will not help. Rest periods alone (weekends, vacations, etc.) cannot solve the problem.

How to help employees with burnout?

Don't leave them out in the cold and hope that the situation will resolve itself on its own or disappear like magic. A burn out situation can quickly degenerate (with, for example, the multiplication of cases). Therefore, it is in the interest of companies to support their employees in difficulty. To achieve this, several pathways should be explored. Managing employee burnout in order to help them is always possible.

1) Paying attention to the mental health of employees

We know this. It is always easier to complain about a backache than about a deterioration of one's mental health. Socially, it is still a taboo. That is why you should not wait for the employee to make the first move. On the contrary, it is up to the employer to be clear on the subject. It is up to the employer to show that taking care of the mental health of the company's employees is just as important as taking care of their physical health. This can be done by setting up Employee Assistance Programs to provide mental health counseling. More generally, addressing the mental health of employees means removing all barriers to honest discussion of the topic in the workplace.

2) Helping employees find meaning in their work

And we're not just talking about bullshit jobs. It can be difficult to find meaning in one's work, even if it does exist. Helping the employee to find meaning, supporting him or her to link his or her tasks to the company's values, can be an effective weapon against burnout.  In other words, it is a matter of creating an emotional link between the employee, his work and the importance of his contribution to the company's objectives. Every employee is an indispensable talent. Management must know how to communicate it.

3) Listen to employees

This is obvious. To be able to spot the signs of burnout that strike employees and provide them with all the help they need, you have to talk and listen. Open communication is the first remedy. According to a Gallup study on burnout, employees whose managers are always willing to listen to their problems are 62% less likely to suffer burnout. A fact worth reflecting on.

4) Implement a system of unrequited rewards 

If you do your homework well, you get a treat. We all know this phrase by heart, promising rewards if we do "as we should." In business, it's often a bit similar (and a bit infantilizing). You reach your goals, you get a bonus, sometimes at the cost of a severe burn out. What if we changed the rules of the game? Hence the idea of setting up a system of rewards for... nothing, in order to honor the employee for what he is and not for what he does. It doesn't matter if it's a gift card, extra vacation time or a cash bonus. What matters is that the employer demonstrates in this way that the person is valuable as a person.

5) Rethinking the corporate culture

This is a disaster. Burnout cases are multiplying in a department, or even at all levels of the company. If this happens, management can't just wonder what the curse is. The first thing to do is to take a very close look at the corporate culture. If it's raining burnouts, it's a sure sign that it is toxic. Everything must be reviewed to improve the well-being of employees. If it is indeed the employees who are affected, it is the responsibility of the organization to deal with the problem, whether it comes from the company's internal processes, which are too opaque, or from a lack of listening on the part of management. Everything must be done to implement a caring corporate culture. This work can only be done by bringing together management, managers and employees.

6) Rebooting vacation for burned-out employees

Managers must encourage employees to take time off and use their vacation time. A study by Project: Time Off found that employees who take regular vacations are less likely to experience burnout.

And what about remote jobs?

Burnout is very egalitarian and does not spare remote workers either. As remote work in Europe and other parts of the world is gaining more and more traction, teleworkers can also be affected by this syndrome. Given the specificities of telecommuting, detecting burnout can be difficult. But once it is detected, several measures can be taken. Here again, management will play a key role in deciding to (either by choice or combined depending on the severity of the situation and the specificities of the company):

  • Thinking more about team morale. For example, by valuing quality work rather than the length of the days worked.

  • Too many applications kill motivation. Working through 50 apps can be exhausting. You need to simplify processes as much as possible to make work as smooth and enjoyable as possible, without unnecessary softwares that are necessarily tiring.

  • Reduce meetings. Scheduling a meeting should have the objective of really moving a project forward. As we know, most of the time, nothing concrete really comes out. So rather than interrupting an employee in the middle of his or her work, it's better to make sure that the results are worth the effort. Especially since meetings are a source of stress for many employees. They should only be used wisely.

How to fight and prevent employee burnout

Why wait until the situation gets out of hand? Of course, not everything can be controlled, and no one can predict the future. However, a certain number of measures can be put in place to avoid, as much as possible, the appearance and multiplication of burnout workers. So how to prevent burnout? 

  • Introduce regular breaks. Concentration is exhausted after two busy hours of work. Beyond that, fatigue starts to set in and the risk of making mistakes increases. Hence the need to encourage employees to take regular breaks, so that they can regain strength and focus before getting back to work.

  • Even work should have limits. A working day should have a beginning, a middle and an end. When it is over, it must really mean over. The same goes for weekends, which should be a time for employees to relax with family or friends. Work-life balance must be respected and encouraged.

  • Giving meaning to work. This is an essential factor. If my missions serve a purpose, if they contribute positively to the community (whether it is the company or more generally society), then my commitment is largely justified. A great way to boost your job satisfaction.

  • In a telecommuting situation, reduce loneliness. Don't stay alone. If you are feeling down, loneliness makes difficult situations worse. Even at a distance, it is possible to stay in close contact with colleagues. Regular participation in virtual coffee breaks is highly recommended. If that's not enough, don't stay at home. Working remotely means being able to work from anywhere. If you feel lonely, rent a coworking space and interact with others there. Being surrounded has the beneficial effect of lowering stress. Think about it.


Burnout undoubtedly has a high human cost in terms of health. The cost of employee burnout is also social. According to the Harvard Business Review, the health expenses related to the syndrome amount to between $125 billion and $190 billion per year in the United States. A staggering sum that proves to what extent burnout is a scourge and must be treated as such.


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