How to Avoid Burnout at Work: 4 Work-Life Balance Tips

A smiling employee works on a laptop.Job burnout represents the physical, emotional, or mental stress experienced by people who become too worn out by career and life pressures to work effectively. This exhaustion is accompanied by feelings of doubt about their ability to do their job and the value that they bring to an organization. In addition to having a negative impact on the company, job burnout can have significant detrimental effects on a person’s health.

According to a recent study by Indeed, over half of all respondents reported experiencing burnout in 2021. While burnout is common, there are ways to combat it. With the right tools, professionals at all levels can learn how to avoid burnout at work and achieve a work-life balance.

What Is Employee Burnout?

Burnout is caused by chronic job stress and can cause employees to become mentally and physically exhausted, leading to symptoms such as cynicism, a lack of confidence in their professional ability, and overall fatigue. While it isn’t a diagnosable mental disorder, burnout can contribute to other disorders, such as anxiety or depression, and can affect employees in all industries.

A high-stress job doesn’t automatically mean an employee will experience burnout, but it makes prevention and management more important. Burnout can negatively affect all areas of an employee’s life. Knowing the signs of burnout and how to avoid burnout at work are vital to the long-term success of companies and their employees. Prioritizing a healthy work-life balance and ensuring that employees have the resources and support they need can be the key to retaining happy, productive employees.

Signs of Burnout

Workers should be aware of how they’re feeling and acting while on the job and be on the lookout for signs of burnout. Often employees experiencing burnout show a decrease in productivity and poor work performance. The following are a few signs of burnout:

Physical Exhaustion

Carrying too heavy a workload can mean employees work far too many hours and neglect their own physical well-being. Ranging from tiredness to physical exhaustion to chronic illness due to stress, burnout-driven exhaustion can mean individuals turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Emotional Exhaustion

An unmanageable level of work or stress can lead to emotional exhaustion or mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. As individuals try to maintain an unrealistic level of productivity, they often sacrifice sleep or their emotional well-being.

Decreased Job Performance

From cynicism or irritability to distancing themselves from work or their coworkers, burnout can cause decreased job performance as employees to become too exhausted or begin to dread their work. With a lack of energy or motivation, the quality or consistency of work performed by burned-out employees can decrease drastically, changing a normally productive employee into one providing the bare minimum.

Aside from physical fatigue, employees may be emotionally drained, showing signs of depression and anxiety. Employees who are withdrawn and no longer socialize with their coworkers are likely experiencing burnout and need to make changes.

Luckily, there are many ways to reverse burnout and learn how to avoid burnout at work. When an organization takes employee satisfaction seriously, it can allow a business and its employees to thrive.

What Is Work-Life Balance?

Managing a healthy work-life balance is an essential step for reducing stress and avoiding job burnout. Positive work-life balance is attained by prioritizing job responsibilities and career ambitions alongside important life elements, such as family, friends, leisure, and spirituality. Making this balance a priority benefits both the employee and employer.

Taking the time to ensure that employees do more than simply work can go a long way in decreasing burnout. Employees will be more relaxed and confident, knowing they’re valued as workers and people. Employers will benefit from having an eager staff who come to work energetic and focused.

By ensuring that employees not only take time for themselves and their families but also interact with each other and make the workplace more enjoyable, an organization can improve morale and make staff more eager to invest in a company.

Stress-Reducing Tips to Prevent Job Burnout

Reducing stress and burnout at work not only improves the lives of employees but allows them to be more productive at work. For employees looking to learn how to avoid burnout at work, the process begins with taking charge of their schedule and workload, discovering what works for them, and working with their employer to find solutions.

1. Ask for a Flexible Schedule

The average person juggles many work and life responsibilities on a daily basis. If management approves, a flexible work schedule can make a big difference in someone burning out on the job and achieving work-life balance.

For example, employees who can start work later in the morning will be able to take their children to school every day. Offering flexible start and end of day work hours may not be difficult to coordinate, though the impact on an employee’s personal life can be significant.

2. Work Remotely When Possible

Technology has given us mobile devices and the ability to connect online from almost anywhere. Employees benefit from an opportunity to do their work from a location other than the office. Sometimes a simple change of scenery or the ability to work from home once or twice a week can relieve the pressures of a busy workweek and allow employees to avoid burnout at work.

Working remotely may require planning and coordination between employers and other team members, but managers who allow their workers to take advantage of this convenience are also helping them attain a work-life balance that reduces stress.

3. Try Being Off the Grid During Vacation

The downside of increased connectivity and mobility is that employees are often expected to always be able to handle issues that come up outside of working hours. This results in people working nights and weekends.

While this may help workers get ahead and stay competitive, it can be physically and mentally draining to always be on call. That is why it’s very important for workers to disconnect as much as possible while on vacation. Vacation time is for employees to spend however they desire, and constantly checking emails and phone messages will only serve to speed up burnout.

4. Take Unpaid Leave for Life Events

There are certain life events, either planned or unexpected, that are too important to miss.

While companies can provide sick days and paid personal days, people often have other life needs that aren’t covered by paid time off. These may be serious events and emergencies. There are also instances when employees need time to make life-changing decisions, such as moving to another state or going back to school. Unpaid leave can be time well spent for employees to balance the pressures in their personal lives while remaining on good terms with their employers.

These work-life balance tips are guidelines for keeping the stress of career and life ambitions in check. Those who can maintain stability on both fronts are better able to avoid burnout at work. By paying attention to meaningful aspects of their personal lives, people are better equipped to focus on excelling in their careers.

Maintain Balance and Find Professional Success

Being a driven, dedicated, motivated employee is a wonderful thing, but maintaining both happiness and productivity requires a healthy work-life balance. Taking the time to slow down and appreciate the little things can make all the difference. Ensuring that employees know how to avoid burnout at work, taking breaks from the stresses, and finding balance, can allow employees to reach their goals and lead organizations to long-term success and productivity.

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Discover how you can make a positive difference and navigate the workforce with confidence with an MBA from Ohio University.

Recommended Readings

Exploring Types of Corporate Social Responsibility in Business

How to Be Productive at Work Without Sacrificing Creativity

Reasons to Get a Master of Business Administration


The Balance Careers, “How to Encourage Work-Life Balance for Employees”

BetterUp, “Signs of Burnout at Work — And What to Do About It”

Forbes, “Indeed Study Shows That Worker Burnout Is at Frighteningly High Levels: Here Is What You Need to Do Now”

Indeed, “Employee Burnout Report: COVID-19’s Impact and 3 Strategies to Curb It”

Mayo Clinic, Job Burnout: How to Spot It and Take Action

Verywell Mind, “Burnout Symptoms and Treatment”

World Health Organization, Burn-out an ‘Occupational Phenomenon’: International Classification of Diseases