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10 Ways Leaders Can Support Employees Struggling with Burnout

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

Pizza parties aren’t cutting it anymore. Support your employees struggling with burnout using these 10 proven tips that leverage the power of authenticity in the workplace.

Is burnout just another corporate buzzword speckled through all the latest LinkedIn articles or are employees everywhere throwing up the white flag, desperate for help? Is donning pajamas three days in a row just the new normal for remote work or is it a sign of a stressed-out, overwhelmed employee who “literally can’t even”?

From skyrocketing depression and anxiety rates on the heels of the pandemic to people grasping at straws to find meaning in their lives after the whirlwind that was the last couple of years, all you really need to do is talk to the person next to you to see why employees can barely find the will to churn out that quarterly spreadsheet or even wash their hair before their next Zoom meeting.

This, folks, is the picture of employee burnout in 2022.

Are Employers Equipped to Handle Employee Burnout?

Adding insult to injury are employers pretending they don’t see or hear their employees’ subtle or not-so-subtle cries for help. But is it because they don’t care? Or because they aren’t sure how to approach it or fix it?

I wager it’s the latter—since, after all, nobody woke up one day and thought we’d all live through a global pandemic that claimed the lives of over 6 million people, followed by unprecedented supply-chain issues, horrific economic downturn, rumors of food shortages, a housing bubble, historic inflation levels, a mental health crisis, and rumors of World War 3.

Now, this laundry list of doomsday calamities—that even Celine Dion couldn’t sing in one breath—just sounds like another Tuesday.

But shit gets real when the World Health Organization recognizes employee burnout, defined as chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, as a syndrome. And with leaders everywhere fumbling to address the elephant in the room, if they aren’t struggling with burnout themselves, a question I am often asked is, “How can I support my employees struggling with burnout?”

The reality is that there are simple things leaders can do to help. But, simple doesn’t mean easy. It takes you slowing down, turning off autopilot, and perhaps a bit of cojones to sometimes buck the norm so you can do what’s best for your team.

Here are 10 practical ways you can address this massive dark cloud so that you both retain your best talent plus make a difference that actually matters.

10 Ways Leaders Can Support Employees Suffering From Burnout

  1. Replace "How are you doing?" with "How are you doing on a scale of 1-10?" But don’t stop there—dive a little deeper when you learn that they fall on the lower end of the scale and ask specifically how you can lighten their load.

  2. Simplify your 1:1 meeting agendas to 4 topics: - What's working? - What's not? - What are you doing about it? - Where can I help?

  3. Ban internal PowerPoints and/or only allow simple format/bullets to make a point. Does this one really need further explanation?

  4. Start a team group chat via text where you only share funny memes and inspirational stuff. Watch your team morale and productivity skyrocket.

  5. Write your own emails. By this I mean get rid of Corp Comm buzzword emails that rarely get read or just make things worse.

  6. Take a real vacation and do NOT log in, indicating to others to do the same (and conversely, I shouldn’t have to say this in 2022, but don't ask your employees to log in while they are on vacation).

  7. At least once a week, find a new remote workspace (a new coffee shop, somewhere outdoors, etc.). Share the change of scenery with your team and inspire them to follow suit.

  8. Normalize being off or away from IM/chat/Slack for periods of time. The pandemic ushered in an “always-on” mentality that has run many of us ragged. Let’s, umm, not.

  9. Conduct a BS Work Audit with the team and set a goal to remove 10-20% of the stuff that's in the way of their real work. Yes, this is where most of the burnout lives - the go-through-the-motions-cya stuff. Get rid of it!

  10. Add this agenda item to all team meetings: “Slow down and inspire." Let the open mic for leadership best practices and other inspiring info/stories commence and see how quickly your team connects and feels motivated again.

One Major Root Cause of Employee Burnout in 2022

There is one major contributor to burnout that not enough people are talking about enough: and it’s employees’ not being able to express themselves authentically at work. It’s leaders who are too busy putting on a show for the big-wigs instead of acting human in front of the people they are supposed to lead. It’s cancerous company culture that favors brown-nosing, check-the-box mentality, and snoozefest corporate communications over simply putting their people first.

When it comes to burnout, we have to stop putting band-aids over bullet wounds. Pizza parties aren’t going to cut it this time. But you know what will? Embracing authenticity and empowering your employees to show up authentically, too. And we conducted a national research study on the Impact of Authenticity in the Workplace to prove it.

If your post-pandemic company culture could use an overhaul, we can help you and your leaders deploy specific authenticity strategies that will skyrocket connection and trust among the team (no lame trust-fall activities required). Let’s bust through the BS together and reignite the passion and purpose of your top performers.

Want more authenticity tips and tricks to transform your team? Download my free Authenticity Playbook for 10 easy, actionable plays that can transform any department no matter what challenges you may face.

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