One business-culture expert believes there are five important tools a leader should have in their toolbox to support their employees and help prevent burnout.


The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the global workforce, with effects including job losses, employee burnout and staff turnover. The latest survey from MindEdge Learning and the HR Certification Institute involved more than 1000 HR professionals. It revealed a large increase in burnout, hiring difficulties and workplace safety concerns (see hyperlink above for the key findings in detail). Another study—this time by Skynova—found that many employees were too frightened to take sick days for fear their supervisor would be suspicious of them. Some people also admitted taking a day off without telling their boss (see Skynova hyperlink for full details). Shane Metcalf, chief culture officer at 15Five suggests five steps companies can implement to foster happier and more engaged employees:

No meeting Thursdays. Some workers have back-to-back virtual meetings nearly every day. 

A four-day workweek. Since the pandemic began, remote employees around the country have been burning out by not setting boundaries between work and life. 

Sabbatical Program. Provide a sabbatical for tenured employees to work on a passion project and get some distance from their day-to-day work patterns. 

Mental Health Days. Companies can dedicate mental health days when employees feel overwhelmed and need to let their minds recover.

Self-time. This can be the last two to three hours of the workweek to support employees in their personal development practices or undertake voluntary work helping other people.


Mar 2020 BBC How to avoid burnout amid a pandemic

Jul 2020 Forbes This Is The Best Way To Avoid COVID Burnout

Sep 2020 HBR Preventing Burnout Is About Empathetic Leadership

Feb 2021 HBR Beyond Burned Out

Mar 2021 The Atlantic Only Your Boss Can Cure Your Burnout

Apr 2021 Forbes How To Identify And Prevent Employee Burnout