What’s Fueling Burnout in Your Organization? | Harvard Business Review

Leadership & Culture

The issue of employee burnout continues to be a significant concern for many organizations. Burnout, characterized by an ongoing imbalance between job demands and available resources, leads to undesirable outcomes, such as extreme fatigue and diminished creativity and problem-solving abilities. While excessive workload is frequently identified as the primary cause, this article highlights an often-overlooked factor: the impact of collaboration demands on employee well-being and overall organizational health. “Collaboration demand” refers to the excessive expectation of collaboration among individuals or teams within the workforce. The article introduces four essential questions for leaders to address excessive collaboration demands. Two questions are: 1) Can we reduce structural complexity? Many organizations inadvertently introduce complexity by expanding hierarchical structures and spans of control, resulting in increased employee interactions. Companies like Netflix and Trader Joe’s employ explicit processes to identify and eliminate structural complexity. 2) Does our workflow make sense? Organizations often employ between six and nine different collaboration methods (e.g., email, Zoom, in-person meetings, etc.), leading to inefficiencies due to varying preferences and usage patterns among team members. One practice to address this challenge is to establish collaborative norms to streamline communication. For more ideas on organizational factors contributing to employee burnout, see McKinsey’s article, Addressing Employee Burnout: Are You Solving the Right Problem?