Stopping Employee Burnout

It’s time for us to look at some solutions together to deal with employee burnout. Perhaps you or someone you know has been affected. This article is for leaders who care about the psychological well-being of their employees as it relates to burnout. But if you’re someone who has been in the position of a burnt-out employee, it’s still very much worth a read. Please comment below and share your thoughts!   

In my previous post, we discussed some causes of employee burnout: lack of role clarity and support from the organization and its leaders, along with low intrinsic motivation.

Let’s take a look at some solutions to these issues.

Improving role clarity is especially important in remote-work settings. When emails and occasional video conferences are used as the primary means of communication, it is important to make sure all messages are clear and free of conflicts. The best way to avoid role ambiguity and conflicts for employees is to let them set up their own SMART goals and give feedback when necessary. When reviewing individual goals, leaders should focus on employees’ understanding of the tasks and whether or not there are conflicts among various tasks, goals and demands.1

Moreover, every unit should establish formal means to resolve conflicting demands.1 The best way to achieve this is to always prioritize the vision of the unit/organization as well as individual career goals.

Support from the organization and its leaders can come from all aspects. It not only sets limits to whether or not employees possess the proper resources to complete work, it also involves employees’ socioemotional needs — such as the needs of being valued and cared about, needs for praise and approval, and needs of psychological safety and assurance.2 Even though at times employees’ requests cannot be fulfilled immediately, those whose socioemotional needs are constantly met will have more trust in their leader and hold a more positive outlook.3

A clear channel of communication and feedback-giving is the best way for leaders to understand and acknowledge the needs of employees.

Lack of intrinsic motivation can eventually lead to workplace burnout because employees don’t feel confident in their own abilities in completing the work; they don’t feel the purpose or the meaning of their work; they don’t have control over how they complete their tasks or they don’t see the impacts of their work.

To help improve employees’ intrinsic motivation, positions can be designed in a way where the tasks match the competence level of the employees, the meaning and purpose of their work are clear and clarified, employees have control over when and how they complete their tasks, and employees can follow projects from beginning to end to see and feel the impacts of their work on others.4

By taking these steps, you are more likely to have a happy, committed and engaged workforce that has less risk of being burnt out.



1. Krayer, K. J. (1986). Using training to reduce role conflict and ambiguity. Training & Development Journal, 40, 49–52.

2. Eisenberger, R., Huntington, R., Hutchison, S., & Sowa, D. (1986). Perceived organizational support. Journal of Applied psychology, 71, 500-507.

3. Eisenberger, R., Armeli, S., Rexwinkel, B., Lynch, P. D., & Rhoades, L. (2001). Reciprocation of perceived organizational support. Journal of applied psychology, 86, 42-51.

4. Deci, E.L., Connell, J.P., & Ryan, R.M. (1989). Self-determination in a work organization. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 580-590.



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October 23, 2020 at 5:39 am
Dr. Bill Pope

Pushing the "burnout' issue is an ever increasing population of UGs that get unsupervised, extra time on on-line exams. We all know whats happening. It's everything that we take pride and satisfaction in our university, being abused.


Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.