Are your employees unhappy with the work they’re doing? Better yet, are YOU unhappy? You and those that work with you could be suffering from burnout. Burnout seems like a term we use when we want to lump our stress and exhaustion into one place. However, it’s so much more than that. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) now officially recognizes workplace burnout as a mental health concern.

With so many people facing workplace burnout, what options do we have? What actions can we take to pull ourselves out of the flames? Whether you’re a leader coaching people through it or trying to find new ways to breathe life into your job, this post will give you a few tips and tricks to pull you back from workplace burnout.

Address Your Stress

When not managed well, short-term stress can contribute to burnout. This is why you must learn how to manage stress effectively. (In fact, stress is such a rampant issue in the workplace that we dedicated an entire blog about it – read: Is Workplace Stress Killing You).

If workplace burnout is creeping up your backside, it might be time to address your stress. There are several strategies that you can use to cope with stress. For instance, you could keep a stress diary to document what routinely causes you stress. Other practices such as deep breathing, meditation , and simple relaxation techniques can help you calm down when you’re experiencing stress.

When feelings of burnout begin to pop-up, it’s natural to want to focus on short-term solutions such as a taking a break or a vacation. However, that is a temporary solution. Learning to manage your stress instead of escape it will be the trick to lasting change. Address your stress head on and you will take some big steps in alleviating the burden of burnout.

Find a Purpose

One of the biggest contributors to workplace burnout is the feeling that the work you’re doing doesn’t matter. If your work is defined solely by your paycheck, then something is wrong. It’s time to place the emphasis on purpose and away from the paycheck.

Look at the deeper impact of what you are doing. I don’t care if you are waiting tables at Applebee’s or the CEO of Apple, if the money or lack thereof is your only motivator, you’re going to find yourself headed for burnout. Instead, concentrate on how the work you’re doing is making life better for others (famed psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, Viktor Frank, devoted his life to this and detailed how we crave meaning more than anything else).

Creating purpose gives you a reason to show up every day and excel. Did the incredible service you gave the couple on $1 Margarita night bring them a smile? Did the Accessibility Features you added to the iPhone help a disabled person connect with their family? Did those spreadsheets you created help your boss understand where the money is going?

Your work has a purpose. But it’s up to you to find meaning in it.

And if you think you’re in the wrong career or role, develop a career strategy to help plan a career that is a better fit for you. Whatever you do…find your purpose and let that be your guiding force.

Get Moving

Are you reading this from a cubicle? Are you plopped in front of a computer for days on end? Your lack of movement could be contributing to your workplace burnout.

Regular exercise can alleviate stress and create a sense of well-being. If getting to the gym is impossible, find blocks of time that you can get up from your desk and walk. Use your lunch break to walk around your office building. Invite your co-workers to take a walk outside when you want to have a meeting. Being sedentary can wreak havoc on your mind. Instead, find a way to move.

I’m no fitness guru but studies show significant results for your well-being just by being moderately active. You may not be facing burnout at all. Your body may be craving activity. Get moving and see how your overall spirits improve!

Find Balance

We can learn a lesson or two about burnout from the world around us – it consistently demonstrates the importance of balance. Nature recognizes that plants, trees, and animals cannot constantly grow and expand. They need an opportunity to rest and to replenish diminished resources. The world provides this balance through the seasons of the year to accommodate the needs of nature.

Are you pushing yourself too hard? Are you constantly inventing, creating new content, new processes, and heading for the next big thing? Instead of trying to best yourself every new day, set aside time for maintenance. Set aside time to read the book that will give you fresh perspective. Give yourself time to go back and look at some old work you produced, and improve upon that. Don’t always try to grow. Look for time to maintain and rest.

Sometimes the greatest way to avoid burnout at work is to make time for your personal life. If your work is creating a shadow over your lifestyle, then it’s time to create space and balance. Plan vacations with your family. Plan to visit a new restaurant every month with your spouse. Take a dance or cooking class. Pull yourself out of the rut and allow your life to flourish. By creating healthy balance in your work and personal life, you give burnout less space to be the driving force in your daily routine.


Workplace burnout is a huge concern in the world today. Whether it’s you or your employees, it’s time to douse the flames and get on the right track. Take time to manage your stress, to find balance and purpose, and maybe a little time to exercise as well. Burnout doesn’t have to define you, but it’s up to you to determine what will.