How You May Be Contributing to Employee Burnout, Without Even Realizing It

A severe problem for many high performers and the teams they work with is employee burnout. When someone is overworked, stretched thin, or overwhelmed by the amount they have on their plate, it can ruin their productivity and take a considerable toll on their mental health and wellbeing.

Employee burnout is often more than just needing a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy office. When someone experiences burnout, it can become incredibly difficult for them to focus on even the smallest tasks.

As a business owner or CEO, it’s essential to ensure you’re doing all that you can to prevent employees from burning out. Not only does this show you care about your employee’s health and want them to succeed, but it also creates a company atmosphere that allows for growth.

However, when you’re focused on getting projects done as efficiently as possible, you may display habits that can contribute to your employees burning out, without even realizing it. Let’s take a look at what some of those habits are, and what you can do to fix them.

You’re putting your high performers on all the most challenging projects:

It makes sense that you want to have your best team members working on the most important or challenging projects. When you have the right team working behind you, you can get projects done more efficiently. That way, you spend less time trying to solve errors.

However, if you’re putting the same high performing employees on all your challenging projects, they can quickly become overwhelmed. It’s important for employees to fluctuate between tough projects and projects they enjoy. They may crack under the pressure of continually needing to perform their best.

To practice this, try to spread out the projects you assign to your employees. Balance your teams with one or two high performers and allow other team members to shine. If your top performers have been on a few large projects in a row, give them a break to focus on some smaller tasks while they regroup.

You expect your best team members to become mentors:

Mentors can be great for boosting careers and improving someone’s ability and work ethic. On the opposing side, when you expect your best team members to help newer or low performing employees, you’re adding another task to their to-do list.

Adding this responsibility to a high performing employee can also cause them to feel responsible for the low performing employee. If a job doesn’t get done, the high performing employee may take on that burden all on their own. Unfortunately, this can increase the employee’s stress level and cause them to become stretched thin.

Allow mentorships to form naturally. If someone is struggling or in need of help, have multiple team members try to provide some clarity or assistance. By spreading out the pressure or expectation, one employee is not putting all the weight on their shoulders. This is another example of how you can prevent your employees from becoming overwhelmed.

You rely on your best employees to get small tasks done:

When you need something done, you want it done right the first time around. To ensure things get handled the way you want, you usually rely on your best employees because you know they’ll do what it takes to accomplish the task.

Unfortunately, when you always depend on the same individuals to get small tasks done, they can become overwhelmed rather quickly. Even if the functions are small and don’t require a lot of effort, these small additional projects can eat away at the little free time they have left – especially if you’re also putting these employees on training or complicated projects.

To avoid this, focus on who really should be completing the job. If it’s something small, try delegating it to an intern or new hire. If it requires more skill or attention, assign the task to a mid-level employee and provide them with an opportunity to excel. Do not hand the job to a high-performing employee unless necessary.

You don’t allow employees to pick the projects they work on:

Sometimes it’s not possible for members of your team to only work on projects they enjoy. However, occasionally letting your employees choose where they focus their energy can keep them excited about their job.

It isn’t always possible to allow your employees to choose the projects they work on, especially if you’re a small team with limited room to move around. If you can find opportunities to provide your employees with some freedom in their work, you can improve their relationship with their job.

For every few projects that you assign, allow your employees to choose what they want to work on for their next project or task. Give them the power to decide to learn something new, expand their skill sets, or even explore a different department. Allowing your employees to have some control and freedom in their daily tasks can help them stay focused and prevent them from burning out.


When an employee burns out, it affects the entire team. If one of your high performing team members starts to feel overwhelmed or unable to handle the daily challenges of their job, projects may fall behind, clients may become unhappy, and your entire company can feel a slip.

Help your employees avoid burning out by avoiding these common habits. Even if you don’t think your actions are negatively affecting your employee’s productivity and motivation, you want to go above and beyond to ensure they’re getting the balance they need to stay happy in the job.

Could you benefit from HR advice and guidance from experts in the field? The StaffScapes blog is a great resource to help you keep up with best practices and tips on how to avoid potential problems for your business.