PROFESSIONAL SERVICES | 6 ways to prevent burnout

Look around your office.

Do you have any employees that are just running on empty?

Do they look exhausted?

Are they struggling to concentrate on tasks?

Are they irritable?

Do they feel detached from their job?

If any of the answers to these questions is ‘yes’, the employee may be at the risk of burnout.  

In professional services, it can be quite common for employees to experience burnout. Not only can it result in lower productivity, it can cause dips in job satisfaction, low morale, absences and resignations. 

Don’t wait any longer to act. It’s time you take charge and stamp out employee burnout in your firm.

What can cause burnout in your professional services firm?

Employees may be suffering from burnout for one or a combination of the following factors:

  • Excessive workload
  • Long working hours
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Time pressures
  • Not enough support from managers
  • Not receiving feedback
  • Lack of autonomy
  • Not having a voice in the decision making process
  • Role ambiguity

How can employers in professional services prevent burnout occurring in their workplace?

All employers want their workplace to be supportive, inclusive, rewarding and fun. To beat a burnout epidemic at your firm, consider the following six steps.

Employees may be scared to admit that they are struggling with their heavy workload or finding the deadlines unreasonable. They may be worried about how it will be interpreted by their manager and/or colleagues. It is therefore important that the workplace culture and managerial style do not prevent employees from coming forward when they do have issues and they are not subject to any detriment for raising their concerns. 

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) give employees confidential and impartial online and telephone support. It provides them with access to telephone counselling, management support and advice. 

Line managers play a significant role in spotting the signs of burnout and taking proactive steps to avoid it occurring. They should be trained to nip issues in the bud and provide employees suffering from burnout with adequate support.

Make sure that managers are giving employees regular feedback and allowing employees to have a say in key decisions. Ensure employees are well equipped to do their role – there should be no role ambiguity and they should have sufficient autonomy. Have strategies in place to boost motivation and engagement and encourage managers to have frequent one to one meetings with the employees to detect issues as early as possible. Also consider reviewing job functions and tasks to cut out any unnecessary tasks.

It’s important to promote a good work-life balance. In professional services, you can be exceptionally busy, but remember that longer hours don’t necessarily mean employees are working harder. Staring at a computer screen for hours doesn’t mean the employee is more productive and not taking breaks doesn’t mean they are more committed to the job.

Consider different flexible working arrangements that could work for you, such as flexi-time, compressed hours, part-time, home working, term time contracts and job sharing.

The purpose of annual leave is for rest and relaxation from work. If an employee isn’t taking their full allowance or is actually working whilst on holiday, they will not be this getting much-needed rest. In the long-run, it can negatively affect the employee’s health and wellbeing and it will increase the risk of burnout. 

Although it’s practically impossible to impose a ban on all out of hours emails and calls, you can encourage your employees to resist the temptation of checking their devices. For those who are particularly worried about their work while they are away, you can ensure that someone is covering their projects and there has been a thorough handover. 

If you do notice that someone is answering emails out of standard hours, you can send them a reminder email or bring it up in their next one to one meeting. It is also beneficial to remind managers to refrain from contacting employees on holiday unless it is an emergency.

The aim of rest breaks is not just for comfort, but also to protect the health and well being of employees, prevent them experiencing excessive fatigue and avoid causing accidents. Encourage them to take their break and ideally away from their desk.


Senior management should be looking at the reasons for burnout in their professional services firm and ensure that there are appropriate strategies are in place to tackle the root causes. Seek advice from our Employment Law Experts for guidance and support on how to prevent burnout wreaking havoc in your workplace.