top of page

Preventing Employee Burnout With Meaningful Recognition Programs

Written by CultureCon 2022 Sponsor and Presenter, Blueboard


Workplace burnout has been an afterthought for a long time.

But in 2021, an alarming 89% of employees reported experiencing burnout. This is an urgent problem and companies need to get serious about what they can do to prevent employee burnout, rather than responding to cases reactively.

In this post, we explore exactly what burnout is and how it happens—and explain how recognition can keep your employees engaged, healthy, and fulfilled in their jobs.

What is employee burnout? Here's a helpful framework.

First, what is employee burnout? According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review:

“Burnout reflects an uneasy relationship between people and their work. Like relationship problems between two people, those between people and their work usually indicate a bad fit between the two, rather than just individual weaknesses, or just evil workplaces.”

There’s a common misconception that burnout manifests as a sudden mental breakdown. That it looks like an employee who is sleep deprived, tired, and in need of an extended vacation. But burnout is more insidious than that—it’s a chronic problem that builds over a long period of time and has symptoms that extend beyond just exhaustion, including:

  • Cynicism

  • Loss of concentration and productivity

  • Sadness, anger, or irritability

  • Insomnia

  • Sudden physical ailments (headaches, bowel problems, etc.)

To understand what causes workplace burnout in the first place, the Stanford Social Innovation Review surveyed more than 10,000 people across a wide range of organizations. They discovered that the person-job mismatch that leads to burnout falls into six categories:

  • Workload: Too much work, not enough resources.

  • Control: Micromanagement, lack of influence, accountability without power.

  • Reward: Not enough pay, acknowledgment, or satisfaction.

  • Community: Isolation, conflict, disrespect.

  • Fairness: Discrimination, favoritism.

  • Values: Ethical conflicts, meaningless tasks.

Let's explore how you can use this framework to address the source(s) of burnout in your workplace.

1. How to prevent employee burnout with meaningful recognition.

To address burnout as an organization, your leadership team needs to identify which of the six categories your employees are struggling with the most. This requires intentional dialogue with your people. Then, it's about prioritizing your highest risk areas and introducing initiatives to prevent burnout.