Employee Stress and Burnout Prevention

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 20/08/2019
how to prevent burnout

This article is aimed at employers who care about their team and its mental wellbeing. It’s not a secret that burnout is the biggest enemy of productivity - nor that its primary cause is workplace stress. This is why we want to explore the topic of workplace stress and burnout prevention.

Summer might be the time of year we look forward to most. But a lot of employees in the UK report feeling stressed out during the warm season. The study by Westfield Health found that nearly half (48%) of employees experience workplace anxiety and stress during the summer months. Alarmingly, 70% of respondents who were working parents said they suffered from stress before or during the summer holidays. It would prevent them from spending time off work with their family.

Holidays are supposed to be a chance to switch off from work. Though the study revealed that staff spend 17% of their time thinking about their job. Commenting on the study, CEO of Westfield Health David Capper said: “Employees are experiencing a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety that is having a detrimental impact on their wellbeing in the run-up to, during and after they come back from their summer break, leaving them no time for vital recovery.” In this article, we want to address the issue and investigate it further to determine its roots and how can you build a healthier work environment. 

How Can I Prevent Stress and Burnout at Work?

These are key ways to minimise stress and the risk of burnout at the workplace:

  1. Become a trusted point of communication, so employees don’t delay voicing their issues;

  2. Practice early recognition of burnout signs;

  3. Employ 1-on-1 minutes with your staff to gauge their stress levels;

  4. Encourage breaks and create designated space for them;

  5. Organise weekly meetings to talk through potential anxieties and work together to address them;

  6. Offer flexible working options.

Identify The Problem

You can’t begin looking for a solution unless you know there’s a problem. When it comes to issues like workaholism, however, it is even more difficult to register than poor attendance patterns. When you begin noticing signs without looking for them, it means the problem has already been there for a while. In extreme scenarios, it could only become apparent when the employee suffers a breakdown or leaves on the spot. But if you know where to look, you can catch the red flags before they cause damage. 

Signs of Workaholism

There are six key signs of workaholism:

  1. Their time and relationships with others are compromised;

  2. They check and reply to messages off the clock, possibly even in the middle of the night;

  3. They can be heard or develop noticeable signs of poor or lack of sleep;

  4. They often work late or take work home;

  5. They continue working and checking messages on holidays;

  6. They don’t talk about anything else but work.

Similarly to absenteeism, workaholism requires you to act fast. However, another trait both extremes share is that the signature behaviours don’t always mean there’s a problem. There’s a high chance you’ve been guilty of engaging in some of them yourself. 

The difference between workaholism and an occasional extra mile is the frequency. Working overtime or being particularly invested in a project of high complexity and strict deadlines now and again is inevitable. However, if you see an employee constantly engaged in such behaviours - there’s a problem. 

Introduce Time Tracking and Holiday Management

Spotting a pattern, on the other hand, isn’t as easy. No employer has time to focus on each employee individually. Especially if the company is on the bigger side. It doesn’t mean they have the right to stay oblivious, however. Instead, they should adopt software that tracks their employees’ time spent working and time off work. Often such solutions can provide detailed graphic reports with just a few clicks. They include data put in a visual format as well as compared to that of either other employees or different time frames. This way any potential patterns become visible.

In addition to this, such software offers more benefits to the company. For example, tracking how much time is required for your staff to finish certain tasks can be used to optimise your processes as well as improve workforce utilisation. When handling client work, having awareness of time expenditure can lead to more accurate estimates and reduce overservicing. A holiday management system, in turn, helps you avoid being understaffed during holiday periods. It also reduces the back-and-forth when the staff are booking time off. Since this system is centralised and visible to everyone, it also enables the rest of the team to plan their time and workload better.

How Can an Employer Prevent Burnout?

Let’s say you’ve done your due diligence and found out that one or more of your employees are pushing themselves past the mental health limits. Naturally, you can’t leave it unaddressed. Confronting them is unlikely to bring the desired result either. Simply put, you are likely to stress them out further if you blatantly call them out. The good news is that there are other, more subtle ways of addressing the issue without causing further distress to your staff. And they are what we are going to talk about next. 

Ways to Keep Stress Levels Down

The best way to manage stress is to do your best to prevent it. Here are some tips:

  • Create an open culture where employees feel comfortable speaking openly about how they’re feeling (which can help managers identify problems early on and avoid a situation that results in employee burnout).

  • Promote flexible working practices such as flexitime and remote working. This can be really helpful for working parents in particular, who may be stuck for childcare during the holidays.

  • Organise a weekly meeting at the start of each week to talk through current and upcoming projects so the entire team is kept in the loop. These meetings can also provide an opportunity for employees to raise any queries or concerns they may have.

  • Schedule regular one-on-one minutes with each member of staff as they may not have the confidence to raise queries in a team environment. If they have an issue, make sure you put forward a constructive plan of action of how you’re going to help resolve it – and seek to do that in a timely manner.

  • Encourage regular breaks throughout the day, especially at lunch and if your team are on computers all day. Make sure you have a designated space within your office where employees can take some time out from their work.

Invest in Workflow Management Systems

One of the key reasons why employees are stressed during their holiday or are hesitant to take time off is the fear of falling behind on their work. Additionally, they might be worried that their absence inconveniences the rest of the team. All in all, the anxiety stems from uncertainty about whether their time off will have implications on the business and their personal performance. The best solution would be to build an office with smooth communication, in which your teams would be able to carry on working efficiently even with one or two members absent. It sounds complicated but is actually easily achievable. Simply get your company's workflows organised by employing workflow management software.

When combined with a holiday management system, it allows your workers to tailor their workflows in advance to someone’s annual leave. Additionally, such software is capable of pinpointing automation opportunities to optimise the workflows further. It helps improve their efficiency, accuracy and speed of delivery. Visibility of company-wide workflows, as well as the knowledge their short-term absence can be filled in by automated processes, should take the anxiety away from your staff and let them enjoy their well-deserved rest. 

Build a Healthy Work Environment

Time off work is when your staff needs to kick their feet up and relax. So they can then return rejuvenated and ready to take on new challenges. While it sounds complicated, creating a nurturing work environment where your staff flourish thanks to a healthy work-life balance is actually simple. All you need are good intentions and the right tools. This way you can get behind building systems and processes that not only give your staff work satisfaction but also enable you to spot potential issues right away. All that’s left then is to nip them in the bud before they cause bigger problems. 

Timesheet Portal for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Timesheet Portal is a unique platform that automates many of the manual, time-consuming tasks that are costing your business. It included time tracking, invoicing and expense management. Automating these tasks can help to save your business time and money. The features of the software could very well help to keep stress levels low in your workplace during the summer months and beyond. For instance:

  • Flexitime management removes the hassle of having to keep track of how many extra hours your employees work;

  • Absenteeism management enables you to record and approve your employees’ absences. It could help you to identify possible areas of concern and take action before it becomes a bigger issue;

  • Time-off bookings give you the ability to centrally manage time-off requests, so you don’t end up approving too many requests at once and finding yourself with an extremely small workforce;

  • Contractor self-billing, available on the Recruitment Edition, saves contractors and back office staff time as it gives you the ability to automatically generate self-billing invoices for contractors to send to your agency for payment.


Although regularly taking time off work is crucial for high performance and great results, many workers are hesitant to go on holiday. And even when they do, many report being unable to relax due to work-related stress. Workaholism, even in its lightest forms, is the primary reason behind burnout. As an employer, you are responsible for your staff’s mental well-being and that includes ensuring they take time off to recharge their work batteries.

Workaholism patterns are often the product of the office environment. Be it peer pressure, high expectations, unrealistic deadlines or other human-related factors. Curiously, however, from spotting unhealthy behaviours to preventing them, the best way to address the issue is through digital transformation. Adding certain digital tools to your strategy can contribute greatly toward creating a healthier work environment by smoothening communication, adding flexibility and improving collaboration across the teams.

At Timesheet Portal we take care of our staff. Let us take care of yours too.

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