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People Sustainability - How to Treat Employee Burnouts and Maintain a Positive Work Environment.

 The key asset of any successful business or organization is its people. In order to maintain and grow this intangible asset, organizations must take into account the policies and experiences of everyone who contributes to their value chain, including all of its employees and other stakeholders.

 Employees can begin to experience symptoms of emotional and physical exhaustion as a result of prolonged exposure to work stress factors. Whether this stress is emotional or physical, they may feel drained, lose desire to accomplish and show low levels of productivity. It can also have a negative impact on their health, leading to an increased susceptibility to diseases and thus a noticeable increase in the amount of sick leaves. This type of burnout can happen to your most engaged and dynamic team players. In fact, there is a direct relationship between employee burnouts and engagement levels. The mental and physical state of your employee can affect how engaged and productive they are, while the level and type of engagement experienced in the workplace on a daily basis can impact their mental and physical state. This is why it is crucial for employers to shift to a management approach focused on people sustainability.


Indicators of a burnout:

  • Decreased levels productivity
  • Failure to show up to work related activities or team building activities.
  • Inability to celebrate achievements (showing minimal excitement about achieving small or big milestones).
  • Lack of belief in your ability to complete tasks (a sense of inefficiency).


  • Lack of Support from Managers:

Employees perform better when they get recognition for their hard work, constructive feedback, and involvement in decision making. This is why it is important that they feel heard and supported by their managers. Research shows a lot of people in managerial positions get no training on how to deal and build relationships with their team. In fact, managers who put too much pressure on employees can be major contributors to the problem.

  • Heavy workloads and tight deadlines

Burnouts mostly occur in employees who are highly engaged and overwhelmed with tasks and deadlines. Working on high-value projects and getting assigned responsibilities they are not ready for can also increase the chances of burnouts. They might even reach a point where they no longer enjoy or celebrate achievements or rewards.

  • Team conflict and dysfunctional work environments

A dysfunctional work space can happen due to multiple reasons. A big problem is role conflict and not giving an employee a clear path or description of their role and assigning tasks and projects that are incompatible with each other. This can lead to conflict within teams or between employees of different levels. This environment can then massively increase the chances of burnouts happening.

  • Unaligned work and personal values

Employees like to have a sense of direction and belonging to their place of work. This can only happen if they have a full understanding of the organization’s values, goals and vision. It is also important for them to see that the organization’s decisions reflect the same values. Employees should also share the same personal values otherwise they might lose their sense of purpose.


Create a safe environment for two-way conversations to happen:

Your employees should be able to voice their concerns and problems to you. This will act as a forecast that will help you notice weak or problematic areas.

Encourage your employees to take breaks and vacations:
It is important for your employees to be able to break within the work day according to need without feeling obligated not to. This will allow them to distress and stay productive and complete tasks with a higher quality.

Give your employees control over their own schedule:
Setting boundaries is a crucial step to maintain a healthy work environment. Employees should have control over their time and be allowed to prioritize their tasks and requirements. There should be a bit more flexibility with work hours and locations, allowing them to work when and where it is most suitable.

Channel your employees struggles to higher management:
After noticing your employees are overwhelmed and overloaded with work, it is your responsibility, as the middle layer, to discuss deadline extensions, vacations, and the possibility of hosting stress relief events and activities with higher management.

Set a positive example:
Managers should set a positive example for their teams. As a manager, you should display an understanding of the importance of mental health. You cannot run around having back-to-back meetings and show signs of burnout or fatigue and expect your employees not mimic your actions. You should also create a safe space for them to be able to talk to you about any day to day struggles they might have in the work space.

Supporting your employees and treating burnouts can be very beneficial to your organization. In fact, research shows that employees engaged in a healthy work environment can make an organization 78% more profitable.

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