The Top 11 Causes of Employee Burnout

5 min read
Mar 21, 2017


Does your organization suffer from employee burnout? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent study, 95% of organizations admit that employee burnout — which occurs when employees are physically, mentally, and emotionally drained — is a major concern that threatens their workforce.

You can’t control the way your employees feel about their jobs entirely. But by understanding what causes employee burnout and taking steps to reduce the chances your workers are affected by those factors, you can increase the likelihood your staff will remain happy and committed to your organization.

With that in mind, here are 11 of the most common causes of employee burnout — and what you can do to prevent them:


01. Workers have too much on their plates

Even the most industrious worker in the world will burn out eventually if their boss piles an ever-increasing amount of work on their plate. According to our Engagement Report, nearly 70% of employees feel as though they’re unable to get all of their work done each week. To prevent your employees from burning out, make sure that they have reasonable workloads as well as access to the tools, resources, and technologies they need to do their jobs the right way.

Stressed businesswoman sitting at her desk in the office.jpeg


02. Job definitions are very narrow

When an employee is expected to tackle the same few tasks over and over and over again, it’s only a matter of time before their experience becomes mind-numbingly monotonous. To keep things fresh, encourage your workers to collaborate with their colleagues in other departments. Let them spend some of their time working on pet projects too.


03. The work environment is depressing

Anyone who’s worked in an unwelcoming and unexciting environment knows how grating it can be. When you’re stuck in that kind of environment, you can get a little more depressed every time you step foot in the office. To reduce the chances your employees become burned out, build a work culture that’s supportive, friendly, and fun. Make work a place that your employees want to be, and they’ll be much more likely to stick around for the long haul.


04. Every aspect of the job is micromanaged

You hired your employees to do a specific job. Let them do it. The last thing an adult who’s skilled and educated wants is for their boss to manage every aspect of their job — down to whether they should include emojis in their emails or not. Let your workers operate as autonomously as possible. So long as they are doing their jobs well, do you really need to look over their shoulders constantly?


05. The compensation isn’t fair or competitive

Employees work for money. While it’s not always the most important aspect of their job, workers can’t use an awesome company culture or exciting perks to pay their bills. It’s one thing to expect your employees to work hard and continue challenging themselves. It’s quite another to realistically hold those expectations when you’re not paying your staff competitively. According to our 2017 Engagement Report, nearly 25% of workers would take a job somewhere else for a 10% raise. Compensate your employees fairly and they’ll stay put.


06. There aren’t opportunities for career growth or development

One of the major perks employees are looking for is the opportunity to develop new skills and advance their careers. Yet according to our Engagement Report, only 25% of workers say their organizations offer enough opportunities for career development. To counter burnout, invest heavily in career development. Support your employees. Start a mentorship program. Whenever possible, promote employees internally.


07. Managers play favorites with certain employees

Your employees are all in the trenches for you every day, working hard and doing great things. It’s simply unfair to play favorites, treating certain employees better than others. While your favorite employees will likely be happy and engaged, the workers you like less will eventually become burned out. Can you really blame them? Treat every employee as equally as you possibly can to prevent anyone from feeling like you’re playing favorites.


08. Nobody asks employees about their thoughts or ideas

When employees are routinely putting in 40 or more hours at a company every week, they begin to feel a sense of ownership in the organization. And nobody wants to invest a ton of time in a losing operation. When employees arent asked about their thoughts on new initiatives or given the opportunity to share their opinions and ideas, they aren’t likely to feel valued. Make it a habit to pick your employees’ brains every now and again. You never know when someone will come up with the next amazing idea. To increase the chances your employees are honest with you, utilize pulse surveys that allow them to chime in anonymously.

Business man having concerns about work.jpeg


09. There isn’t any genuine employee recognition

According to a recent study, 69% of employees would work harder if they believed their efforts were actually valued. Unfortunately, a number of companies don’t understand the importance of employee recognition. Sure, they might buy their workers a little gift at the end of the year. But when everyone gets the same thing regardless of how hard they work, it doesn’t really seem that authentic. When employee recognition is lacking, burnout could be right around the corner. The good news is that there’s an easy fix: make employee recognition a top priority. Here are some ideas for how to make that happen.


10. There aren’t any investments in team-building activities

The number one thing employees like about their jobs are their coworkers, a stat we first reported in our Engagement Report. Even so, not every company understands the importance of building a tight-knit team. You can’t expect your workers to get along with one another if they rarely interact with everyone they work with. Schedule regular team-building activities to cultivate strong relationships between your employees. Workers with friends in the office are much less likely to leave.


11. Work-life balance doesn’t exist

Few people really need to be available around the clock. If you expect your employees to immediately answer the emails you send them at 11 p.m., it’s only a matter of time before some of them will be burned out. Show your employees that you care about their work-life balance by letting them check their after-hours emails at their own leisure — if not the next morning. Make sure they have enough time away from work to recharge their batteries.



2017 Employee Engagement Report

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