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Preventing Workplace Burnout

Proactively addressing employee well-being and implementing effective strategies for preventing workplace burnout is crucial for creating a sustainable and thriving work environment no matter what time of the year.

As we come into the summer holiday season, it’s a good opportunity for us to be reflective on our working practices and how we are managing the various elements in our personal lives – so that we are setting ourselves up for success for the second half of the year.

That might mean we need to keep up the good practices we introduced earlier this year or it might mean that we need to get back on track, and bring more sustainable working practices into our every day life.

Let’s start with the beginning

Organisations have been busy managing the varying global and financial challenges and resetting budget or financial projections for the business while also mapping out resource needs, talent requirements, skills and capabilities, improvements in automation and digitisation, new technologies, and overall analysing how to achieve a greater levels of productivity and improved margins.

While leaders focus on plans for business growth and increased market opportunities, it is vitally important to also spend time developing ways to support staff to be successful and remain at their best.

This requires consideration of the work environment and the lived experiences of our employees in order to gain a better insight into how an organisation can create a workplace that is sustainable for retaining and growing its talent and where employees can perform to their best.

If we step back a little and look at the outcomes of the work done and gain a deeper insight into ways we can achieve greater innovation and smarter, more efficient ways of working, so that we deliver increased job satisfaction and improved motivation, then we know that we must find ways to improve levels of wellbeing for our people and gain a more valuable client relationship built on higher levels of trust and loyalty.

It is only then that we will be in a position to truly identify meaningful and achievable goals for the business, and position the organisation for further success.

We all know that the past few years have been hugely demanding on the personal lives of everyone, and while some businesses have struggled to survive, others have struggled to meet the increasing demands and opportunities.

This means that for many, we have been in crisis mode, operating in extreme situations where it’s been difficult to find the right talent, battling to retain our best people, juggling the demands of limited or delayed supplies, and all of this in an economic and global environment of a pandemic, a war, increased interest rates, and a climate change emergency.

What does research say?

Studies are now beginning to show the results of work overload, emotional job demands, physical job demands, and work-home conflict, which are all risk factors for job burnout. This can present as personal exhaustion and cynicism among staff.

Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report 2023

In the Gallup State of the Global Workplace report 2023, they found that globally, employee engagement and wellbeing remain very low, and it’s holding back enormous growth potential and tell us that engagement and wellbeing interact with each other in powerful ways.

We often think of engagement as something that happens at work and wellbeing as something that happens outside of work, but Gallup’s analysis suggests that’s a false dichotomy.

How people experience work influences their lives outside of work. Employees who consistently experience high levels of burnout at work say their job makes it difficult to fulfil their family responsibilities.

Overall, wellbeing influences life at work. Employees who are engaged at work but not thriving have a 61% higher likelihood of ongoing burnout than those who are engaged and thriving. When Gallup looks at our global workplace data through engagement and thriving combined, the results are striking.

Deloitte’s external marketplace survey of 1,000 full-time US professionals explored the drivers and impact of employee burnout, and provided insight into the benefits and programs employees feel can help prevent or alleviate burnout versus those their companies are currently offering.

Biggest driver for burnout is:

  • 31% – lack of support or recognition from leadership
  • 30% – unrealistic deadlines or results expectation
  • 29% – consistently working long hours or on weekends

The undesirable impact of burnout can be alleviated, and organisations really must prioritise this critical business factor by addressing job resources and establishing social supports. This can be achieved by increasing the quality of the relationship between the employee and their manager through better and more meaningful communications.

So, to understand burnout a little better, let’s look at how the experts define it. They refer to it as:

“a syndrome of chronic exhaustion, where cynical and negative attitudes regarding work develop, resulting in reduced professional efficacy which can occur in any job”.

Research shows that aspects such as appreciation, innovativeness, and skill variety are more possible in situations of high demanding jobs when we have supportive structures in place, recognition programmes that reward the correct outcomes, and generally work practices that are meaningful and relevant to the needs of employees.

The top 3 findings in a 2023 CIPD Ireland survey has found that the initiatives to maintaining a wellbeing culture are:

  • 65% online wellbeing and health initiatives
  • 64% on the senior leaders agenda
  • 64% mental health awareness programmes

When we consider ‘quiet quitting’ and the ‘great resignation’ in this context, we begin to see a correlation between the symptoms and the outcomes. We can affect change by how we choose to manage and the environment we chose to create for our staff.

This is our opportunity to shift the focus, and instead of looking at what is wrong with employees, we can start to gain a better understanding of how employees flourish at work and address the basics requirements for greater job success.

So, as leaders and decision makers within our organisations who are looking ahead to the future, we must prioritise workplace design and take responsibility for the environments we are creating for our employees. Our people will flourish and perform to their best if we have the support structures in place to create sustainable jobs and engaged relationships between employees and their managers.

By providing inclusive wellbeing and personal supports needed by our employees, and recognition mechanisms that reward the behaviours and outcomes we want, we will prevent workplace burnout and increase the levels of retention and employee satisfaction within our organisations.

An older version of the article was also published in the May Edition of Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) Architecture Ireland Magazine.

If you’d like to discuss this topic or need assistance in enhancing your work environment, implementing effective strategies, or preventing workplace burnout, contact us on 01 525 2914 or

Our HR Expert team is here to support you in helping you creating a positive and thriving workplace culture and preventing workplace burnout.

Fredericka Sheppard, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Voltedge Management

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