How to Avoid Burnout

How to avoid burnout in your family business

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had several conversations with business owners and leaders about burnout.

Some are concerned about becoming burned out themselves.

Others are noticing it happening with employees.

Burnout is an expensive problem

According to a recent article in Harvard Business Review

  • Companies without systems to support the well-being of their employees have higher turnover, lower productivity, and higher healthcare costs
  • Workplace stress is estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $500 billion dollars
  • Each year, 550 million workdays are lost due to stress on the job
  • Burned-out employees are 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job, 63% more likely to take a sick day, and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.


Why does burnout happen?

A survey of 7,500 full-time employees by Gallup found the top five reasons for burnout are:

  • Unfair treatment at work
  • Unmanageable workload
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Lack of communication and support from their manager
  • Unreasonable time pressure


The good news is that everything on that list can be influenced and improved through your company leadership.

What owners and leaders can do to prevent burnout

Employee burnout is often “self-driven”

The best companies surround themselves with high achievers.

And high achievers are just self-motivated.

They will check their emails on the weekend.

They will answer text messages on vacation.

They will stay late to finish what they’re working on – or take work home with them.

Leaders often inadvertently (or sometimes intentionally) contribute to burnout by asking more from their people or through “setting the standard” through their own behaviors.

Over time, what used to be “high performance” leads to burnout.

Develop a supportive culture of excellence

Make it part of your culture that if one of our colleagues is on vacation, do not send emails. Wait until they return.

If you get up early and send emails out at 5:00 am (I’m notorious for this!) – let your team know that they do NOT need to respond at 5:00 am. (Even if they, too, are a high achiever who likes to get an early start.)

Give your employees permission to manage their work/life balance.

Ask them what they need.

Get their feedback and suggestions.

Check in with them about their workload.

Pay attention to purpose

Burnout at the leadership level of an organization usually stems from disengagement with purpose.

If “work is starting to feel like work” – that’s a sign you’ve lost your sense of purpose.

So, you need to get re-engaged with that.

Your employees also want a sense of purpose.

No one wants to spend their valuable time working on things that don’t seem to matter.

Your team wants to feel PURPOSEFUL. When you are feeling purposeful, work may be hard, but it feels right, and it feels worth it.

Build a team that finds their purpose in the mission of the company.

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