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Employee Burnout – The new worker pandemic?

Finding talent over the past year has become increasingly difficult. However, keeping good talent has also become crucial as we start to see the effects of the “Great Resignation”. We’ve touched on the Great Resignation already in a previous blog post and from what we’ve seen, a contributing factor to this trend is employee burnout.

Burnout is being considered as the “new worker pandemic” with one in three employees being found at risk of experiencing burnout. Recent surveys also show strong themes in HR of concerns around employee wellbeing relating to COVID, change, fatigue and work overload. Over the past few months, exhaustion and burnout has set in as a flow on effect from the length of nationwide lockdowns – particularly in Auckland.

If there is one thing these trends highlight, it is the importance of employee wellbeing and for employers to consider:

  • how does burnout affect employee performance? And;
  • what impact does this have on the workplace?


What can Employers do?

Firstly, employers should come to grips with the fact that burnout and wellbeing are workplace-related challenges that can have a significantly adverse effect on employees. This requires employers to individually consider their employees needs, identify how burnout is impacting them and then how performance is impacted as a result. For example, the following behaviours associated to burnout would likely have a negative impact on performance:

  • Reduced productivity and lowered standards of performance
  • Increased anxiety, stress, sadness, anger and other emotions
  • Reduced passion or motivation for work
  • General disenchantment with the organisation

Once an employer has identified these needs and behaviours, it allows them to consider the potential consequences associated to burnout and how to mitigate these. Such consequences may be:

  • Heightened emotions and tensions in the workplace resulting in conflict between employees and the employer or employees against other employees
  • Employees not meeting targets or performance goals
  • Loss of staff and workforce due to resignation

As more people are moving back into the workplace in 2022, here are a few takeaways for employers to a consider when managing burnout in the workplace and mitigating against the wider consequences:

  • Break the stigma of keeping work-life and personal-life completely separate. These both feed into each other and ‘personal’ issues can affect the ability to function professionally.
  • Focus on having more open conversations with employees. It is important to deal with these issues sooner rather than later and have the important conversations, whether they be positive of negative.
  • Foster a culture where wellbeing is respected and if people are struggling, they are encouraged to raise that with someone who will support their needs.
  • Ensure your organisation has the tools to identify and deal with stress before it reached the point of burnout.
  • Have an effective employee value proposition in place and focus on enhancing employee wellbeing.
  • Shift away from thinking about managing time and start to think about managing our energy.


All of these are great ways to reduce burnout and be more involved and focused on employee wellbeing. They can be the simplest of initiatives, even simple things like including non-work-related activities.

The way in which organisations and employees work should be considered and rooted in the wellbeing plan to really make an impact and reduce these pressures leading to burnout. It is important to note that it takes more than just acknowledging wellbeing and looking at it as a tick-box exercise, it should make a positive impact and have organisational buy-in.

Although it is never too late to put in place a wellbeing plan, it may be that the conflict and consequences caused as a result of burnout need to be addressed first by an employer. Whether it is doing a pulse check to understand where the tensions lie in the workplace, organising a mediation between aggrieved individuals, or understanding more about how to talk to your people, Three60 can provide the support and assistance you need.


This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.

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