‹ News / Culture

9 strategies to prevent your team from burning out

May 13th 2024

Wavelength in conversation with Speaker Geoff McDonald - 9 strategies to prevent your team from burning out, by Geoff McDonald

Burnout can affect anyone, particularly in high-stress job environments. When coupled with uncertainties about the future, economic downturns, and the rising cost of living, it creates a challenging environment ripe for team burnout. As a leader, safeguarding your team against burnout is your responsibility. This begins with setting an example through actions, like leaving work at reasonable hours and fostering open discussions about emotions and well-being. 



Geoff McDonald, the renowned global mental health advocate and Wavelength Speaker, shares his insights on simple yet effective measures to identify signs of burnout and intervene before it escalates, both from a leadership and individual standpoint.



  1. Avoid glorifying overwork: While occasional extra hours may be necessary, consistently staying late or bringing work home risks burnout. As a leader, promote the importance of work-life balance. Avoid contacting your team outside regular work hours unless absolutely necessary. Continuously messaging employees late at night infringes on their right to personal time. Encourage them to disconnect from work-related apps after hours to prevent unnecessary stress. Watch for signs of burnout such as exhaustion, irritability, poor concentration, isolation, loss of motivation, and frequent illnesses or absences.
  2. Foster a culture of appreciation: Recognition at work boosts employee engagement and retention, especially crucial for remote workers who may feel overlooked. Geoff emphasizes that team energy is paramount for performance. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to keep your team motivated. Recognise their accomplishments and demonstrate how their work contributes to the organisation’s goals. Consider instituting monthly awards or incentives aligned with company values or organise team events to express gratitude for their efforts.
  3. Encourage open communication: Addressing mental health stigma begins with fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their feelings. Encourage open dialogue about challenges, both personal and professional. Sharing personal struggles can foster closer bonds within the team and provide opportunities for support and collaboration.
  4. Limit tasks to three: Setting unrealistic to-do lists can lead to frustration and a sense of failure. Instead, focus on one to three achievable goals each week. This approach helps prevent overwhelm and maintains a sense of control.
  5. Prioritise breaks: Encourage employees to take their allotted vacation time to rest and recharge. As a leader, lead by example by taking breaks and disconnecting from work during downtime. Ensure your team understands their holiday entitlements and promote a healthy work-life balance.
  6. Offer mental health support: Make mental health resources accessible to your team, such as in-house therapy or apps like Spill, which provides therapy sessions and mental health check-ins. Recognising and addressing mental health concerns can improve employee well-being and productivity.
  7. Normalise saying “no”: Encourage employees to set boundaries and decline additional work when necessary. Overcommitting can lead to burnout and decreased work quality. Understanding one’s limits is essential for maintaining mental and physical well-being.
  8. Evaluate work processes: Review existing processes to identify stressors and areas for improvement. Consider reducing the frequency of meetings or implementing policies to protect lunch breaks from interruptions. Solicit feedback from your team on ways to enhance work practices.
  9. Prioritise self-care: While caring for your team is crucial, don’t neglect your own well-being. Geoff recommends the ‘CAN DO’ method, a daily checklist to maintain mental and physical health.

Taking proactive steps to prevent burnout benefits both employees and the organisation as a whole. By implementing these strategies, you can create a healthier, more sustainable work environment for your team.

Take some time to connect with your friends, family or nature. Connection is key to maintaining our emotional health – it’s one of the reasons many of us struggled with lockdown.

Be active for at least 30 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be overly strenuous. In fact, getting a dog is a great way to make sure you’re getting regular outside exercise.

Do something nice for someone, like making your partner dinner or writing a thank you card, and see what this does for your sense of purpose.

Discover something new – it’s great for oiling your neural pathways. It could be as simple as doing a crossword or starting that book you’ve been meaning to read.

Take a five-minute break just to observe the space around you. Make a cup of tea or just stand in the sun – Geoff calls this the ‘stroke the cat’ moment as it requires zero effort.

If you would like to chat to us about booking Geoff as a speaker for your next event, contact Sarah Dryden.

Take a look at another blog written by Geoff, Why Health Should Be A Strategic Priority For Organisations.