How to Combat Burnout in the Workplace

Vivian Fong · 21 Nov 2022

How to Combat Burnout in the Workplace

It was burnout, not pandemic restrictions that affected mental health in Singapore most during the pandemic.

Singapore’s work culture has its employees putting work over personal life. In a survey of mental health across different Asian societies, Singapore was the only place where burnout was the leading factor affecting mental health during the pandemic.

For many, this looked like waking up just in time for work, continuing overtime and ending the day too tired to do anything else. Months into the process, this can make one feel more like a machine, than a human being.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), burnout is a syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is a response from employees that could lead to an underlying problem in the way the workplace is structured. Burnout often comes out in the form of dread, anxiety, irritability and resentment. With these feelings, one can be less productive and withdrawn, both at work and in one’s personal life.

If we don’t address employee burnout, the organisation is at risk. The most important asset to an organisation is its people, and if we don’t take care of the wellbeing of the people, then the organisation is at risk.

Below are four tips on how to combat workplace burnout. However, simply caring for ourselves is not the only way to solve the underlying problem. How do we get the conversation started? Who is going to speak up?

Address hard to talk about, taboo topics that most are unwilling and uncomfortable to talk about.

  • Things such as working overtime, not taking a break for lunch, not sleeping, poor compensation…etc are factors that do play a role in employees feeling burnout. Addressing these issues as soon as possible can be extremely helpful to prevent the onset of burnout from happening.

Let employees know that benefits are there for them to use, and that they should always prioritise rest.

  • In today’s society, it can be very difficult to prioritise rest, especially when stress levels are high and there is a lot to get done. However, operating from a state of anxiety and stress can cause the output of work to degrade. Employees produce their best work when their stress levels are under control and they are well refreshed and rested.

Have check-ins or 1-1’s with your employees and create and cultivate an open and trusting space for them to share their thoughts, questions or concerns.

  • Show interest in their lives outside of work as it confirms that they are more than what they do in the workplace and that they’re not just a product of the organisation. Showing that their presence and hard working behaviours are valued in the workplace makes them feel as if they are irreplaceable, which in turn helps with employee retention

Encourage employees to set boundaries on work

  • Boundaries are rules that we set and abide by in order to protect our energy, fulfilment and work-life balance. Boundaries can look anything like not checking your phone past 6pm, or not working on the weekends. Setting boundaries are extremely important for work-life balance, and the best and hardest part is… you have to set and abide by them!