top of page
  • Writer's picturePooja Sachdev

Preventing Burnout: Building a Culture of employee Wellbeing

There’s a lot of talk about burnout these days but what does it really mean and how does it happen?


Burnout is a form of mental and physical exhaustion, that goes beyond tiredness… it’s a deep disengagement from work, sometimes leading to a loss of identity and meaning.


Burnout can often be the result of operating in a work culture characterised by:

•      Overworking e.g. where the norm is to be “always on” and doing long hours is seen as a ‘badge of honour’

•      Lack of control and autonomy e.g. not having a say in your workload, resources or how things are done; lots of random and arbitrary changes (who doesn’t love a good last minute ‘pivot’, huh?!)

•      Lack of support e.g. not having the information or resources to do your job well, or feeling a sense of ‘being on your own’

•      Lack of fairness e.g. in opportunities, recognition, promotions and rewards

•      Lack of a sense of team or community

•      Negative social dynamics e.g. toxic or distrustful relationships, feeling bullied or undermined or excluded

•      Life-work balance is off e.g. it feels like work is ‘taking over your life’

•      Boredom e.g. monotonous work which doesn’t feel meaningful or purposeful - I love the term “bullshit jobs” (I’ve been using this phrase for a long time before I discovered that it was officially coined and defined in the book by David Graeber[1] by the same name!)

AND, perhaps counter-intuitively…

•      Work that is too deeply intertwined with our identity[2]… i.e. where our work is who we ARE….  (I know that many of you - as leaders, coaches, HR/ DEI practitioners or just people who care about your work – might be able to relate to this last point, as I do!)


So, how many of the above conditions do you see in the place where you work?


And what actions and behaviours contribute to creating this kind of climate?


There’s a lot of advice out there for what individuals should do to prevent burnout (like taking breaks, making time for ourselves, managing our energy[3], etc) and that’s all great.


However, we also need to think about what conditions in our working environments might help to counter “burnout culture[4]” and build employee wellbeing.

 Photo by Rebecca Peterson-Hall on Unsplash

This isn't about providing perks like fresh fruit or free massages (though those may be nice touches anyway!). It's about looking at ways of working, tacit and explicit expectations and how we manage and communicate about our work.

For example:

  • As leaders and managers, what examples do we set, in terms of working patterns?

  • What expectations do we communicate (explicitly or otherwise) about response times and working hours?

  • How do we determine deadlines?

  • How do we prioritise?

  • What is treated as “urgent” and why?

  • What language do we use when we talk about breaks and holidays?

  • What steps can we take to counter the ‘always on’ mentality and prevent burnout culture where we work?


Most of us have been conditioned to adopt the capitalist mentality[5] that we should always be productive or “doing something”. When taken to extreme, this can be detrimental to us personally and also, ultimately our organisations.


Holidays, breaks, time off and relaxation are not a luxury or ‘nice to have’, they are essential[6] – not only for our health and happiness, but also for sustaining our energy to work well and live fulfilling lives.


Your work is important, but YOU are more than what you do.


Pooja Sachdev is the co-author of 'Rewire: A Radical Approach to Tackling Diversity and Difference', published by Bloomsbury and described by the FT as "the most refreshing approach to diversity I have read".

She is a coach, counsellor, consultant, and founder of Rewire Consulting.

Specialising in organisational development, diversity & inclusion, and leadership, Rewire helps build positive work cultures that enable people, teams and organisations to fulfil their potential.

To find out more, or to register interest in our programmes for organisations, leaders or coaches, get in touch via this website or connect with us on Linked in.

Further Reading:



Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page