Manager Burnout Is More Common Than You Think

  • Author: Meghan Stewart

Managers are so critical to team and individual performance, so when they’re burned out, the whole organization suffers. And believe it or not, most of your managers may be struggling with burnout right now. Thankfully, when you know what manager burnout looks like and which strategies can combat it, you can improve the employee experience for managers and the people on their team.

How to Spot Burnout in Managers 

Manager burnout can take many forms, but research suggests it may have already become an issue in your organization. In a recent Microsoft study, 53% of surveyed managers said they were already burned out at work.

Not all managers vocalize feelings of burnout, but there are some common signs it’s creating an issue in their personal or work life. Managers with burnout may be:

  • Uncharacteristically short-tempered or sad
  • Less communicative and less involved in team and company events
  • Routinely exhausted
  • Struggling to empathize with others’ problems
  • Submitting lower work quality than usual
  • Absent more often

Burnout can strike any employee, and can be caused by workload, work/life balance challenges, or personal and family issues. For managers, there are additional factors that contribute to burnout. Some may struggle with meeting the needs of their team, while others need more support balancing people management and other responsibilities. These challenges can quickly become problematic enough to negatively affect a manager’s performance and that of their team. It can also lead to higher turnover, as managers with burnout are twice as likely to leave their job than those without.

4 Ways to Address Manager Burnout

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Despite the fact that manager burnout may already be an issue in your workplace, there are things you can do to prevent it from getting worse.

Consider taking the following actions:

1. Recognize the unique challenges managers face

Acknowledging the added responsibilities of people management goes a long way in helping managers feel supported and less burned out. In a 2023 OC Tanner study, 61% of managers reported having more responsibilities than before the pandemic, resulting in higher anxiety and burnout. However, when they received recognition and appreciation, their anxiety and stress levels fell dramatically.

2. Provide plenty of coaching and mentoring

Managers struggling to stay engaged due to burnout can benefit from connecting with other leaders, whether it’s with a direct manager, peer, or senior leader in another part of the organization. In fact, our Employee Connections Study found that having regular one-on-one meetings is one of the most impactful ways to help employees at any level stay connected with their work, team, and the organization. These interactions provide opportunities for coaching, mentoring, and honest conversations about the challenges managers face and how to better cope with them.

3. Offer manager training and development

Whether they’re new to managing or not, some managers can quickly become burned out by the sheer energy level required to manage people. There’s hiring, training, assigning work, providing timely feedback, mentoring, and more. Keeping up with these responsibilities can be even more difficult when managers lack the knowledge and skills to do them properly. Therefore, in addition to formal manager training, provide on-the-job developmental opportunities that help managers build skills in areas such as communication, empathy, and conflict resolution. With more skills in their manager toolkit, they’ll be more capable of meeting their employees’ needs and managing their own stress levels.

4. Remind managers of available support

It’s not uncommon for managers to assume available benefits are “just for employees.” But managers are employees too! Sometimes, they need a reminder of the benefits available to help them, including mental health benefits, counseling services, and the company Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Though manager burnout is a reality in many workplaces, there are things you can do to support managers and help them de-stress. For additional insights, continue reading our blog and follow us on LinkedIn.

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