Burnout Is About More Than Long Hours.

Nonstop work is part of what leads to burnout, but it's not the whole picture. Enduring productivity is often about balancing intense output with periods of regeneration.

learn more about Adam Bornstein

By Adam Bornstein

Federico Gastaldi

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: I'm worried about my employees burning out. What can I do to help? — Miller, Columbus, Ohio

Instead of thinking about ways to prevent burnout, invert the question. Ask how you can fill your employees with energy, creativity, excitement, and fulfillment.

Why? Because burnout is rarely about hours alone. You need to explore how much you're draining your ­employees and how much you're filling them up.

Related: With Burnout on the Rise, Here's the 1 Thing Managers Need to Do to Ensure Their Employees Feel Supported

We must cultivate endurance. As a recovering adherent to the work-all-day-and-never-sleep lifestyle, it took me time to realize this. But now I realize that relentless work does not result in maximum output. I want my employees to work hard, care deeply, and push the limits of what they think they can achieve, and that requires a balance between intense work and rest.

Deep wells rarely run dry. Here are a few ways you can help your team feel balanced.

1. Embrace time off.

The traditional "two weeks off a year" is outdated, especially when we're plugged in all the time. Long ago I decided to offer unlimited vacation time. Is there a risk that your employees will take too much time off? Of course. But that's a hiring issue. When there's trust, good employees will take off what they need and have your back when you need it.

2. Remove the fear of failure.

Employees hate making a mistake and then receiving a terrifying email or text from a boss. We've all been there. A culture that doesn't tolerate errors is mentally draining. If you remove fear, you reduce stress and support creativity. Let your employees see this by embracing mistakes and using "failures" as an opportunity for everyone to learn and grow.

Related: Telework Burnout and Zoom Fatigue: Much More Complicated Than They Appear

3. Invest in personal growth.

Every year, I ask my employees where they would like to improve. Then I encourage them to find opportunities that will help them achieve those goals and offer to invest in their growth. If you show your employees that you care and put actions behind your words, you might find that your employees do even more work for your company because it's fulfilling.

4. Understand career goals.

Similar to investing in their personal growth, it's important to understand how your employees would like to progress within your company. It's not just about the value an employee brings to the business; it's about the value you bring to the employee. If your employees know that you're thinking about how they move up the ranks, they're encouraged to stay and succeed.

Related: 5 Ways Leaders Can Fight Burnout Culture

5. Encourage deep thought.

Finally, give your employees time to zoom out of the day-to-day tactical execution. We get so busy that we rarely press pause, step back, and think strategically about big picture opportunities or pivots. At my consultancy, for example, we try to limit meetings and calls to two days per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), and leave three days open for deep work and creative thought. It's an easy shift that makes our team much happier.

There isn't one way to avoid burnout. And yet as a guy who has taken himself to burnout one too many times, I've learned this: If you want your employees to be hustlers, it's best to reject hustle culture.

Work is hard. But if you're consistently working to show your employees you care, investing in their growth, and providing opportunities to recharge and recover, you're likely to find that happiness and output will ­dramatically improve.

Adam Bornstein

Founder of Pen Name Consulting

Adam Bornstein is the founder of Pen Name Consulting, a marketing and branding agency; a New York Times best-selling author; and the creator of the two12 event.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change

Invest in Yourself: 10 Things Every Working Woman Should Do This Year

When striving for success, it is easy to forget about your mental and physical health. But without health, you cannot fully succeed. Follow these ten lifestyle strategies for success in your personal and professional life.

Thought Leaders

5 Small Daily Habits Self-Made Millionaires Use to Grow Their Wealth

We've all seen what self-made millionaires look like on TV, but it's a lot more subtle than that. Brian Tracy researched what small daily habits these successful entrepreneurs adopted on their journey from rags to riches.


4 Alternatives to Meetings Entrepreneurs Should Embrace in 2023 to Win Back Their Time

"This meeting could've been an email" is now more applicable than ever before as the number of meetings keeps increasing, only to reduce progress and take away valuable working hours from employees. It's time entrepreneurs embrace alternatives to traditional meetings in their businesses this year.


3 Authentic Ways Brands Can Celebrate Black History Month

Here's how your marketing department can authentically celebrate Black History Month and Black culture year-round.

Business News

iPhones Have Shot Up In Price. But CEO Tim Cook Thinks Customers Will Still Open Their Wallets -- Here's Why

The head of the multi-trillion dollar company faced a question about iPhone prices at Apple's earnings call on Friday.