Increasing workloads. That’s a term most of us hear every day, especially in recent times with the uncertainty, changing guidance and general pressure resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. This heavy workload is increasing the prevalence of another term, burnout.

For a prosperous future, recognise and manage burnout in your workplace.

In recognition of the potentially debilitating effects of burnout, the World Health Organisation (WHO) included the term in the eleventh revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), meaning as of 2020 it is a globally recognised international condition. According to the WHO, common symptoms of burnout include:

  • feelings of energy depletion or mental exhaustion
  • increased mental distance from one’s job
  • feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • reduced professional efficacy.

The WHO define burnout has a work-related stress. As organisations, managers, supervisors or just friends we must therefore be alert and aware of the early warning signs of staff burnout. One of the obstacles is that burnout, and it’s associated work-related stress can be viewed as:

  • it’s just part of the job
  • everybody has it
  • it’s due to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

The step required is to remove the above concept and find a solution to it, that doesn’t result in work related stress or burnout. It’s important to note here that we’re talking about all ranks of employee here, from juniors to CEO.

To reduce the chance of staff burnout, consider the following:

  • promote good mental and physical health
  • create wellness action plans for your team
  • avoid situations where staff are pressurised into working long hours
  • discourage staff talking work home with them.
  • review your rest break policy
  • do not allow presenteeism.
  • introduce mental health first aiders
  • ensure you’ve got an employee assistance programme (EAP), and / or use it.

As a good work-life balance can go a long way to reducing burnout, it’s sometimes necessary to remind your team or colleagues on how to chill out. Here’s some suggestions:

  • take a break
  • try active relaxation
  • get creative
  • spend more time in nature
  • picture yourself somewhere else
  • listen to music
  • write poems
  • remove tech
  • hypnosis
  • meditation
  • mindfulness
  • exercise

The above measures are worth their investment. Failing to prevent burnout can lead to staff becoming unproductive and seeking employment elsewhere. If an employee can prove that their burnout condition has a substantial and long-term adverse effect to carry out their normal day to day activities, you may also be faced with a disability discrimination claim.


Are you experiencing burnout? Or perhaps worried about a colleague or friend? Here’s the common burnout symptoms below:


Lowered immunity
Feeling tired most of the time
Back or muscle aches, frequent headaches
Change in sleep or appetite


Self-doubt, feeling hopeless and helpless
Decreased motivation
Increasingly negative outlook
Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment


Withdrawing from responsibilities
Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
Taking out frustration on others
Arriving late or leaving early

Ensure you have the appropriate framework in place to avoid potentially costly and damaging effects of burnout to your business.

Making the Right HR Decisions = A Happy and productive workforce.

Paul Deaves. Assoc. CIPD

Managing Director, The Hive Collaborative.

HR @ The Hive Collaborative.

Tel: 01352 781965 | Email:

A member of the Professional Body for HR and People Development.

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