Right now, as we discussed last week, for the businesses that are on a path to rapid growth, finding great employees is a tough job. The first strategy was to act quickly to hire, to avoid burning out the awesome employees that you’ve already got. The last thing that you want to do is to overwhelm and overwork this team on which everyone has been able to rely.

So what is burnout? According to Psychology Today, burnout is “state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and/or feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” Employees and Business Owners suffering from burnout are likely less productive, detached from the team, and generally unhappy. All feelings that we don’t want in our workplaces. And all things that employers don’t want to inflict on their employees or business that we really care about.

We know it’s serious, but what can we do to avoid burnout in ourselves or in our employees? If we’ve gotten to the point of burnout what can we do to get that employee or yourself back? Here’s some tips:


Your time is your most valuable asset. So is your employee’s. One of the first steps we often do when we have a team that is on the verge of burnout is to analyze time. Have everyone on your team keep track of everything they do and how long that task takes. Start with yourself to provide an example. What this accomplishes is for you as the Business Owner to have your eyes wide open to how hard (or not hard) your team is working. Acknowledge that each of your team members’ time is valuable and that they are great employees. Be aware especially of salaried employees – they tend to work more than 40 hours.

After you’ve analyzed where people are spending their time, ask yourself if employees are doing more than what you thought. Is an employee overwhelmed taking on social media when this can easily be outsourced? Is an employee doing more than asked but not getting credit for their hard work? Are you doing tasks that can be delegated to your team? We see this the most – Business Owners that are employees in their own business, rather than working on the future of the business.


Pay attention to what is happening in your business. Is an employee who used to always arrive on or before the time they were supposed to now coming in late? Are people calling out sick when this is abnormal? Pay attention to body language. A burned out employee will be easy to spot if you pay attention. As the Business Owner, make a point to check in with employees at every level in all departments regularly. Ask for honest feedback on the work environment. Even better, have an outside third party (like a coach) ask the questions. Employees who are very loyal are less likely to be honest with their leader if they have to look them in the eyes and communicate that they’re unhappy. Teams with open lines of communication are much happier overall, and the signs of burnout can be quickly observed.

If you are the one suffering from burnout, listen to your mind and body. Have you been sleeping well? Able to complete that workout? Are you focused on the task at hand? Are you grumpier than normal with your family? All of these things mean it’s time to invest in some help for you, your family, and your business.


Most of our clients have so much work they cannot keep up with hiring, which puts the employees they do have at risk of burnout. I’m sure we’ve all seen online or even in a store near us a sign that says “please be kind to the employees that have shown up today.” In some of our veterinary practices, they are scheduling appointments well beyond where it used to be “normal”. Think about the long term future of your business. While it might be nice in the short term to have appointments booked from early in the morning to late in the evening solid, don’t forget what keeps your customers coming back. Customer service and an outstanding experience suffer when your employees are burned out. Quality of care suffers as well. The last thing you want to do is to take just one more appointment, and have that customer’s negative experience travel like wildfire throughout your market, therefore hurting your business in the long run. People remember negative experiences, and your business is not the place to have one.

Consider taking less appointments, saying no to a remodeling project, or shortening your hours as a retailer. It might just be what your business needs to stay healthy and grow in the long run. Just like your body needs a rest, so does your business. Take a half a day and go on a team adventure. Plan an alignment. Go to lunch together. Get together for non-work happy hour. Turn the phones off. Let the business heal.


Burnout is a serious problem, but it’s not too late for you and your business. Getting your mindset aligned first, then taking care of the team around you is critical to your long term success. Making that investment is something you’ll be thankful for.


Are you feeling burnout as a Business Owner? Is your business suffering because of bad customer service scores? Are your employees overworked and overwhelmed? We can help. Invest in a no-cost, no-obligation business analysis today. You, your family, and your employees will be thankful.

About the author,

Director of Marketing, ActionCOACH Columbus

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