6 Simple Ways to Prevent Workplace Burnout

By Robert Half on August 26, 2019 at 8:00pm

Preventing workplace burnout in your team isn’t just good for morale, it’s also good for the bottom line. Overwork or stress leading to physical and mental exhaustion produces disengaged employees who aren’t as productive, who are absent more often — and who eventually find other jobs. Worse, they’ve likely to spread their feelings of frustration to other colleagues.

Admin teams are the heart of any business, so preventing burnout among this group of professionals is critical. Imagine your business functioning without a receptionist to answer and direct customer inquiries, an executive assistant to arrange meeting and travel plans, or an office clerk to ensure supplies are always well stocked.

Yeah, we’re shuddering at the thought, too.

But we’re all called upon to do more with less these days. And who doesn’t feel tethered to the office by electronic leashes? Avoiding workplace burnout is easier said than done.

We’ve got some tips you can use right away to help your administrative team in avoiding burnout:

Help them succeed

Here’s some simple advice for preventing workplace burnout: Put your admins in positions that suit their strengths and interests, and provide them with clearly defined roles and expectations. Taking these steps will help ensure the administrative professionals on your team don’t become frustrated labouring at tasks they’re not well-suited for or trying to read your mind.

Also be sure to communicate with your admins on a regular basis and keep them in the loop when priorities change. Including them in the planning process allows them to become invested in a project’s success, and, by soliciting their expertise, you are reinforcing their value to the organization.

Be realistic about the workload you assign and make sure your administrative team has the resources to succeed. One fast path to workplace burnout is assigning overly ambitious workloads that even the most skilled administrative assistant would have trouble completing.

Support — and model — work-life balance

Employees who like their jobs consistently cite work-life balance, or work-life integration as it’s sometimes called, as one of the most valuable aspects of their office culture. Respecting the lives your admins pursue outside of the office goes a long way toward preventing burnout at work.

Consider flexible working arrangements, such as telecommuting, if such accommodations are possible for your business. Encourage reasonable hours.

Perhaps most importantly of all, serve as a model of work-life balance yourself. Manage your time effectively so your employees see that you take your commitment to work-life balance seriously. Actions speak louder than words — don’t encourage admins to leave at 5 p.m. only to remain hours afterward yourself. Also, don’t make your admins feel tethered to their jobs by sending late-night or weekend emails they’ll feel they must be on the constant lookout for.

Provide advancement opportunities

Right up there with work-life balance, employees report that they want the opportunity to advance up the career ladder of their company. If you don’t have one, create a mentoring or career-development program, or consider paying for conferences or college classes that will not only boost the skills of your administrative team but also make them want to build a long-term career with your company. (And don’t forget: Experienced administrative professionals will feel a sense of pride being asked to mentor newer hires.)


Unrelenting stress is a surefire shortcut to workplace burnout. Encourage workday breaks when your admins can step outside for some fresh air or take a few minutes to recharge in a comfortable, quiet room.

Providing healthy snacks also keeps your admins energized and feeling cared for. Manage their schedules so they can enjoy their paid time off without feeling guilty for unduly burdening their colleagues.

Be fair

Whether it’s compensation, perks, promotions or praise, treat everyone fairly. Inequity is a can’t-miss approach to killing morale. No matter how private you think your arrangements are with individual employees, rest assured your support staff is keenly aware of whether that new hire is making more than they are, or if your fellow college alum — no matter how qualified — was the only one considered for a promotion.

Recognize your team’s hard work

Here, we’ve saved the most important, and easiest, secret to avoiding burnout for last: Remember that everyone wants to be valued. We’re not talking about flowers during Administrative Professionals Week, but simple and sincere staff appreciation on a regular basis.

When it comes to saying “thank you,” a little goes a long way toward preventing burnout. For example:

  • Make sure all administrative professionals have business cards to show support staff they are integral members of your team.
  • Implement ideas submitted by your admins, and give them credit.
  • Nominate your team for internal and external awards.

Or get creative with employee recognition: Consider a reserved parking spot for employee of the month, an all-expense-paid trip to a professional conference, a department picnic or an extra day off.

Taking the time to create an office culture in which support staff feel valued, treated fairly and given the opportunity to advance will help keep workplace burnout at bay, ensure productivity remains high and make the workday more enjoyable overall.

Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in over 300 locations worldwide, including our Greater Ottawa Area recruitment agencies, Robert Half can provide you with assistance where and when you need it.

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