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Managing work to beat burnout

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Experts from Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) bring out ways to combat burnout in today’s digital era.

Employee burnout is on the rise. Many employees feel the time stress in modern workplaces with today’s ‘always-on’ culture. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has recognised ‘burnout’ as an occupational phenomenon.

Burnout can have serious consequences on the business and individual, such as reduced work performance, higher risk of depression, and more.

While burnout is commonly associated with long working hours, simply reducing working hours is not a sustainable solution. Here are some ways to address the issue.

Flexibility and control

Given the limited hours in a day to complete one’s responsibilities, falling victim to burnout is easier than you think. The key to preventing burnout is to provide employees flexibility and control over their time to manage their workload efficiently.

Arrangements such as flexible hours, compressed work schedule, and telecommuting allow employees to manage their schedules based on their job, life stages, and needs.

Drawing the boundary

While technology has enabled us to work smarter and more efficiently, 24/7 connectivity has also given rise to an ‘always-on’ culture, where employees leverage digital tools to multitask and work outside conventional working times.

Yet, digital presenteeism doesn’t necessary improve productivity, and is likely to be unsustainable in the long run. So, are employees working long hours because the job demands it? Or do they perceive that their boss expects them to do so, given the ease of working from our mobile devices today?

Employers concerned with employees’ wellbeing should be clear about the “rules of engagement” for email and communication, and set up policies to support a culture that recognises both wellbeing and productivity.

More importantly, communicate these policies to all supervisors and employees, and follow up with concrete, observable behavioural shifts in the organisation’s leaders.

Connect with employees regularly

Hold regular discussions with your team on their work progress or problems faced at work or at home. This helps with the early identification of burnout, and allows you to provide support and resources if necessary.

With the strain on caregiving facilities and support these days, try to be understanding and empathetic towards employees with caregiving responsibilities, and encourage them to be open with the support they require.

Organisations need to take a holistic approach towards programmes and practices that will address the issue at every level. As the pace and complexity of work intensifies, employees are at a greater risk of burning out.

By stepping in with the right tools and support early, you can reduce turnover associated with burnout, and sustain organisational competitiveness.


TAFEP holds regular workshops to help employers and HR professionals keep abreast of HR best practices. Visit tafep.sg to find out more.

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