How HR Can Help Prevent Employee Burnout

Employee burnout can occur at any time, but it has become much more common since the Covid-19 outbreak began.

Burnout, as described by WHO is an “occupational phenomenon arising from chronic workplace stress that has not been effectively managed,” has become so widespread that it is now officially recognized in the International Classification of Diseases.

Burnout has more than doubled in the early stages of the lockdown, rising from 2.7 percent in March to 5.4 percent in April, according to a new study of over 700,000 workers worldwide, with those numbers only set to increase as the constraints have progressed.

Concerningly, organizations that do not currently promote employee well-being during the lockdown and beyond will face a second crisis as a wave of job burnout and stress takes its toll.

Some Warning Signs:

Employee burnout has been caused by a variety of factors, including unmanageable workloads, a lack of help from employers, and worries about job security; remote working arrangements have also exacerbated the blurred boundaries between ‘work’ and ‘life’ for several. Employees who are balancing home-schooling and jobs, caring for vulnerable families, experiencing urgent financial difficulties, or feeling lonely due to living alone are particularly vulnerable.

Detecting early signs of employee burnout requires HR and team leaders to be emotionally ‘tuned in,’ paying attention to any noticeable changes in behaviour that could be impacting an individual’s motivation and productivity long before it contributes to chronic issues. This usually includes:

  • Concentration and attention deficits
  • Lower production and results
  • Recurring illness
  • Disengagement from one’s job
  • Negativity or scepticism about co-workers and their job
  • Poor morale

You can take professional assistance from employee engagement agency to help HR within your organization curtailing employee burnout.

What Can HR Do?

  • Check on health and workload on a daily basis:

Employees need to know like their managers are looking out for them in this period of ongoing instability and heightened anxiety. It is not just for HR to monitor their employees’ well-being, but also for line managers to better gauge how employees are functioning, taking into account any personal commitments they might have, and how they are managing their current workload.

One-on-one check-ins are critical to ensuring the appropriate level of contact and encouragement, as well as fostering a culture of disclosure in which workers may freely address places where they may be struggling, whether at work or in their personal lives. Team leaders must be conscious of setting practical and achievable deadlines while allowing as much control and flexibility as possible. HR need to rethink how to connect with their employees wherever they are.

  • Avoid e-presenteeism:

Many HR leaders believe that the sharp increase in e-presenteeism – where employees feel obligated to be online as much as possible outside of their contracted hours, even if they are sick – would have a significant future effect on employee health, causing increased tension, burnout, and anxiety. This rise is most likely due to job security issues.

To combat this, HR should strive to cultivate a culture of ‘switching off.’ Staff are encouraged to finish their jobs at a consistent time each day. Despite the lockdown restrictions, time off work is still necessary for recuperation in order to keep workers from being burned out.

Line managers can also implement this by setting reasonable standards for working hours and efficiency. Additional measures, such as prohibiting ‘after-hours’ emails, instituting additional vacation time, or adding mental and physical fitness sessions to break up the working day, may also make a significant difference.

  • Empathy and compassion should be at the forefront of the leadership:

HR and leaders must recognize that each person has a specific set of concerns about the current pandemic and lend an empathic ear where it is required. Both organizations and, on a more personal level, line managers should set a good example for their teams.

Also Read: Importance of Training and development in HRM

This can be done by assisting them in setting healthy boundaries, recognizing that efficiency is unlikely to be at its peak, and having time to listen to what employees have to say rather than jumping right into work.


The novel coronavirus has upended our everyday lives, and while the stressors that contribute to burnout have undoubtedly increased in recent months, the simple steps described above may make a huge difference in assisting HR and team leaders to protect and improve employee well-being, thereby curtailing burnout; both now and in the future.

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