Limiting the effects of burnout in the workplace

Limiting the effects of burnout in the workplace

A job is an integral part of our lives. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that the impact of stress from the workplace can cause harrowing effects on a person’s health and wellbeing.

People are often met with stressors in their workplaces. Stressors can be defined as “any event, force, or condition that results in physical or emotional stress” (American Psychological Association, 2020). In some cases, the result of chronic stress within the workplace can lead to burnout.

What is burnout?

Burnout is experienced by an individual who has had a “prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors” (Maslach and Leiter, 2016). The term burnout itself is a metaphor for a person running out of energy.

Put simply, job burnout will occur when an individual’s personal resources are not adequately meeting workplace demands (Back, Steinhauser, Kamal & Jackson 2016). Burnout can manifest in various ways (Maslach 1993; Maslach & Jackson 1981), such as:

  • Physically – tiredness, lowered immunity, muscle pains, headaches, aggravated sleep patterns, and/or changes in appetite
  • Emotionally – sense of failure, lack of motivation, hopelessness, and/or decreased satisfaction
  • Behaviourally – disengagement, use of substances, increased anger, procrastination, and/or isolation

How to prevent burnout in your team

Increase mindfulness in the workplace:

  • A systematic review saw an overall significant decrease in job burnout after staff had either attended mindfulness workshops or incorporated mindfulness into their daily routine (Luken & Sammons, 2016). There are a range of organisations that provide mindfulness training and workshops both in person and online.
  • Facilitate mutual support: Set aside time to discuss goals, reflect on projects, identify any concerns, encourage sharing workloads, and share feedback (Maslach, 2011; Valcour, 2016).
  • Facilitate conversations with your employees to understand how the organisation may be contributing to their burnout (Mangen, 2022).

Encourage rest, renewal, and flexibility:

  • Encourage your employees to reasonably limit their work hours and take their full leave allowance. Promote this through leading by example (Valcour, 2016).
  • Accommodating flexibility in work arrangements has shown to boost employee morale and demonstrate understanding of employee needs (Mangen, 2023).
  • Focus on engagement to build a team environment, promote resilience, and enhance employee involvement in tasks (Maslach, 2011; Maslach & Leiter 2016).

How to limit the effects of burnout as an employee

Take time for yourself:

  • Be intentional with your time off, seek a change of scenery, and engage in activities that ‘fill you up’ (Valcour, 2016).
  • Slow down the rate of your work and ensure you have a healthy balance between your work life and personal life (Grosch & Oslen, 1995; MacBride, 1983, Maslach & Goldberg, 1998).
  • Include exercise and relaxation in your everyday routine (Maslach & Goldberg, 1998).



American Psychological Association 2020, ‘APA Dictionary of Psychology’, American Psychological Association. Accessed 30 July 2021,

Back, A Steinhauser, K Kamal, A & Jackson, V 2016, ‘Building resilience for Palliative Care Clinicians: An Approach to Burnout Prevention Based on Individual Skills and Workplace Factors’, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 284-291. Accessed 30 July 2021, Elsevier.

HelpGuide International 2021, ‘Burnout Prevention and Treatment’, HelpGuide. Accessed 9 August 2021,

Luken, M., & Sammons, A. (2016). Systematic Review of Mindfulness Practice for Reducing Job Burnout. The American journal of occupational therapy : official publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association, 70(2), 7002250020p1–7002250020p10.

Mangen, C 2022 ‘5 ways to deal with burnout at work’, The Conversation. Accessed 15 September 2023,

Maslach, C 2011, ‘Burnout and engagement in the workplace: new perspectives’, The European Health Psychologist, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 44-47. Accessed 2 August 2021.

Maslach, C & Goldberg, J 1998, ‘Prevention of burnout: New perspectives’, Applied and Preventive Psychology, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 63-74. Accessed 2 August 2021, Elsevier.

Maslach, C & Leiter M 2016, ‘Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry’, World Psychiatry, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 103-111. Accessed 2 August 2021, NCBI.

Seery, MD & Quinton, WJ 2016, ‘Understanding Resilience: From Negative Life Events to Everyday Stressors’, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 54, pp. 182-236. Accessed 30 July 2021, Elsevier.

Taylor, NZ & Millear, PM 2015, ‘The contribution of mindfulness to predicting burnout in the workplace’, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 89, pp. 123-128. Accessed 30 July 2021, Elsevier.

Valcour, M 2016) ‘Beating Burnout’, Harvard business review, vol 94, pp. 98-101. Accessed 15 September 2023, ResearchGate.

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