Birkman logo Get Started

Stress is a natural human response that we all experience to some extent. However, too much of it leads to burnout, especially for long periods. Although stress can negatively impact your organization as a whole, workplace burnout is far more serious, characterized by complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. 

Understanding the signs of burnout, what causes it, and what to do about it will help you create a healthier work environment that puts your employees, and their well-being, first. 

Below are four causes of burnout that will help you identify the burnout risks within your team.


The Main Causes of Burnout

  • Lack of clarity

We all know today’s workplace is constantly changing, and with that comes change fatigue. There are new responsibilities. Challenges arise. Priorities shift. When all of these overlap, employees experience a lack of clarity about who should be doing what–often falling into work silos and losing a sense of control. 

Ambiguity causes role confusion and frustration, which can be detrimental to a team and overall company culture. 

  • Lack of resources

It’s a tough world, and businesses face fierce competition to survive. It’s critical for organizations to deliver the very best products, services, and results as cost-effectively as possible. 

Downsizing and streamlining processes are also common, and technology continues to intensify the pace of work. This means employers expect their people to work harder and faster but with fewer resources and support, which can lead to job burnout.

  • Workplace conflict 

Everyone is different, and when you bring together individuals with unique personality traits, perceptions, and ways of doing things for the team, conflict is likely to occur. We each have our own preferences–for example, Birkman Reds are all about taking action and being decisive, while Birkman Blues need time to brainstorm and think things through on their own time. 

Differing ideas, expectations, and work styles can become a huge source of frustration for your people, causing conflict and directly impacting team morale. Diversity conflict is a source of workplace stress.

  • No work-life balance 

If your employees feel like all they do is work, they’re not alone–more than 60% of US employees struggle to find a healthy balance between their jobs and personal lives. 

When your people put all their time and effort into work (especially work that does not align with their natural interests), they end up with no energy outside the workplace–and, ultimately, mental exhaustion. This isn’t sustainable in the long term, ultimately impacting their well-being, work performance, reducing job satisfaction, and increasing turnover.


How You Can Help 

As a leader, you can make a real difference in combatting employee burnout with just a few simple changes to decrease the risk of burnout.  

  • Provide clarity on a team level and individual level

Ensure your people are aligned and know exactly what their roles and responsibilities are from the get-go. Discuss project plans and priorities as a group and clearly define what success looks like for the team as well as for each individual within the team. Providing clarity creates a positive and sustainable organizational culture.

Not only will this foster accountability, but this type of communication actually helps prevent burnout.

  • Support your team members 

Make sure your employees have everything they need to succeed in their roles. This includes setting up an integration of your people, processes, and technology stacks, as well as going back to basics and asking them what support, resources, or conditions they might need.

  • Encourage healthy conflict, but step in when it becomes unhealthy 

Develop better employee relations with team building activities, open channels of communication with regular check-ins, and an environment of psychological safety

Have your people acknowledge and appreciate the diversity in their team when it comes to differing work styles, personality traits, and perceptions. When team members can understand the why behind different styles and perspectives, they learn to appreciate and be open to constructive discussions.

  • Treat your employees well 

It might seem obvious, but we can’t stress it enough. People who feel valued at work are more productive, take fewer sick days or mental health days, and are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. And yet, only 30% of US employees are happy in their jobs, with disengaged workers costing companies between $450 to $500 billion per year. 

Small things make a big difference–think flexible work options or flexible work schedules, such as a four-day workweek, like we do here at Birkman, to start engaging your people without sacrificing on performance.


It's Time to Take Action

Taking the right preventive measures today will help your people avoid burnout. With Birkman Signature, we help you discover your team’s preferences, behaviors, and motivators, supporting you in prioritizing their health and well-being and combat burnout. 

If you’re interested in hosting a team building session or want to bring your people together for meaningful collaboration, look at what our High-Performing Teams Program can do for you.

Related Articles

How to Recognize the Warning Signs of Employee Burnout Early

Read more

How To Manage Stress Among Team Members

Read more

Register for The Birkman Method Certification

Gain access to over 40 reports, including the Birkman Signature Report, and data-driven insights to improve your organization or consulting practice.

Register to Attend

Featured Resource

Nav Resource Panel Webinar

Watch the webinar on demand.

Learn how shifting from feedback to feed forward helps you develop talent in real time.

Watch Webinar