Two Ways to Help Employees Who Are Suffering from Burnout

BY Kathy Crosett
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Are your team members making more errors than usual or maybe they appear less enthusiastic these days? Like many workers across the globe, they are likely suffering from burnout. While there are many aspects to burnout, managers can take action to help their employees. Academic researchers point to unsustainable workload, lack of a supportive community and mismatched values and skills as key areas where managers can make a difference.

Impact of the Extended Pandemic

Jennifer Moss recently partnered with several academic researchers, Christina Maslach of the University of California, Berkeley, Susan E. Jackson of Rutgers, and Michael Leiter of Deakin University, to measure the “state of burnout and well-​being during Covid-​19.” Burnout was an issue for many of us before the pandemic started. But the remote work arrangements we’ve been dealing with for nearly a year have physically isolated team members who previously drew strength from in-​person interactions. With so many companies running leaner operations, too many individuals have been working extra hours. At the start of the pandemic, employees might have been eager to pitch in. Now that the end date of our isolation keeps getting pushed back, team members are losing steam. They can’t contribute 110% at work, keep watch over their kids and manage other personal issues all at the same time.

While Gallup research indicates that employees begin to burn out after 50 hours a week of work, we all know of some individuals who feed on the energy they generate from their 80-​hour work weeks. We can distinguish between these two types of employees. People who feel they have control over their work will have a more positive attitude. The rest of us won't.

However, the bottom line is that the pandemic has seriously impacted our quality of life. Over half of workers, 55%, say they “didn’t feel that they had been able to balance their home and work life.”

Workload Management

To address burnout, leaders should help employees manage their workload. Have some of your team members picked up tasks because of workforce reductions? They may be having a hard time getting everything done. Check in with your reps to review their work process. Are they working as efficiently as possible? Would it help them to attend a class to improve time management?

Since the pandemic started, many organizations have changed their workflow. Are any of your employees filling out reports that are no longer relevant? Are they attending meetings that aren’t essential? Ask each person to audit and report on how they spend their time every week. Then review the results together to determine what to cut from the list of responsibilities.


Don’t turn this into a one-​way conversation. All too often, managers ask team members how they are doing, especially with respect to workload. Employees who are nervous about keeping their jobs will say, “I’m fine.” They don’t want to be added to the list of people who might get shown the door during the next round of layoffs.

Right now, your burned-​out employees want to know that someone cares about them. You can demonstrate your empathy and get a more accurate picture of your employee’s state of mind by asking specific questions. When you ask your reps what they like best about their jobs, they’re telling you what they’d like to do more of. The tasks that they don’t like so much are probably the source of stress. 

Try to change around their responsibilities. If that’s not possible, listen without interrupting when they complain and let them know you appreciate their commitment. Making this connection matters. Our research shows that up to 38% of sales reps who voluntarily leave organizations do so because they feel that nobody seems to care about them. 

Suffering From Burnout

Some employees are more likely than others to feel the negative impact of workplace changes. If your sales team members have taken a sales competency assessment, the results show who scores lower on resilience, courage and hustle. Make sure to check in with these employees regular as they will be suffering from burnout.