7 Tips for Cooling Down Burnt-Out Employees

When it’s no longer an employee just having a bad day at work but feeling disgruntled with high burnout consistently, it’s time for managers to step in.

Employee burnout is a widespread issue that requires immediate attention. When workers feel drained, overwhelmed, and unable to meet their role’s demands, they feel burned out, and their productivity suffers – which isn’t great for your bottom line.

Burnout is on the rise. According to a survey by Mental Health America (MHA) and FlexJobs, 75 percent of employees have suffered from burnout, and 40 percent of the respondents said that it’s a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 37 percent of workers are currently working longer hours and would appreciate having some flexibility in their schedule.

This isn’t surprising; when staff members are overworked without adequate support or role clarity, they burn out. Burn out zaps their zest, preventing them from being motivated and incurring significant costs to their organization (burnt-out workers are more likely to look for another job or request sick leave).

Fortunately, fixing burnout for personnel who are suffering is within your reach. We asked our placement firm recruiters to share some ways to cool down burnt-out employees. Read on to learn what they had to say:

1. Promote work-life balance

Some organizational setups promote overwork. The more time an employee logs, the more dedicated they are considered to be. But this puts their work-life balance out of whack, which isn’t healthy or sustainable for anyone. If you can relate to this culture, it’s time to do some fixing by encouraging breaks and prioritizing performance over attendance, results over hours. Make sure to let your stressed team members know that you won’t be bugging them with questions after office hours so that they’re able to unwind, recharge, and refocus.

2. Create an assistance program

When you have a conversation with a burnt-out worker, you may discover that they don’t feel drained because of the role’s demands. They might be experiencing burnout because of personal issues. However, you can still help them regain confidence and get back to being at their best. The solution lies in creating an employee assistance program (EAP), a setup that enables employees to reach out for professional support for various types of issues. From relationship issues to financial concerns to health problems to mental stress, EAP can offer support where HR may struggle to mitigate the employee’s situation.

3. Provide sufficient resources

One of the common reasons for employee burnout is the lack of resources available to them. In other words, employees get frustrated when their manager doesn’t provide them with the tools, playbooks, etc. If the job is technical in nature, it would certainly lead to burnout, with employees having to work harder. The good news is that you can help them work smarter, not harder, by offering the necessary software and equipment to do their work efficiently. If you’re worried about costs, don’t be – you’ll easily recover them through enhanced productivity and ROI.

Pro tip: See if you can invest in omnichannel software. It reduces the back-and-forth between IT and employees as all the information is present in a robust, central interface. There’s no repetitive data handling, which opens doors to faster decision making. You can even consider investing in alternative tools like chatbots to free up employees’ time. They can then devote the time that they are saving to focusing on improving other areas of the business, which can be more fulfilling for the employee and more profitable for you.

4. Encourage co-workers to communicate

It could be that an employee is feeling burnt-out due to loneliness. Have a program in place that empowers employees to support their coworkers. The mentoring employee can have an honest discussion about what the burnt-out employee is worried about. If they’re dealing with something outside of the office, such as facing illness, a breakout, or another issue, the co-worker can consult HR and connect them with resources. For example, you might have a personal leave policy the colleague can communicate to the employee. Plus, the associate can offer to share some of the workload until the suffering employee sorts out the issue and regains their productivity. Adopt a culture where co-workers are encouraged and recognized for helping each other out and collectively driving the business forward.

5. Give employees more control

This is a big one. Managers and leaders should trust their employees to lead from the front and tackle issues creatively. Following a rigid structure can cause employees to feel bored and unfulfilled. Even when they deliver a positive customer experience, they might feel that it wasn’t the result of their effort – it was the company structure. Give some freedom to employees where they’re able to create and implement their own workflows. In other words, stop micromanaging. No employee wants to have their every decision evaluated or feel they’re being monitored constantly.

6. Show gratitude

There are many ways to show gratitude for the effort your employees make each day. You could make a public acknowledgment, share a handwritten note on Slack, call out the top performers in an email, or even surprise employees with a small present. Your staff members want to know that you appreciate their work and even the smallest acknowledgements make a big difference in this arena.

7. Rethink last-minute requests

You’ll do everything possible to satisfy customers and expect your employees to do the same – that’s a give-in. But putting that as the most crucial consideration could result in situations where employees get burned out. Try a different approach for how you accommodate client requests. For example, you can communicate the need for a shift in strategy as soon as you get signals from clients about revisiting a project or final product. This early communication is a lot more effective than waiting, then dumping a huge pile of last-minute requests on your employees.


Whether you’re an SMB or a large enterprise, you might be overlooking the lingering problem of employee burnout. Instead of neglecting how employees might be feeling, take a proactive approach to identify their stress sources. In doing so, you’ll learn a lot about your employees and consequently figure out ways to help them feel less stressed and overwhelmed. These efforts will pay dividends for the future as well as the present. When you can stamp out systemic problems that are burning employees out, you can create an employee-friendly culture that will help you retain your workforce.