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Are Your Leaders Burnt Out?

New research shows that 59.6% of leaders report feeling burnout.

Key points

  • New research has found that 59.6% of leaders are feeling burnt out. 
  • Workplaces can create caring and safe work environments through their policies, procedures, language, and cultural norms.
  • Employers should prioritize and support the CARE behaviors: compassion, appreciation, responsibility, and emotional wisdom.
Source: Nomadsoul1/iStock

With a constantly shifting landscape, an ever-growing list of “management” expectations, and only so much time and energy to navigate each day, our new research has found that 59.6% of leaders are feeling burnt out. So, what can organizations do to support their leaders better?

“Leaders who reported that their workplaces were caring and safe were significantly less likely to feel burnt out,” explained Paige Williams, co-founder of The Leaders Lab and one of the partners in the new research. “They were also more likely to report higher levels of individual, team, and workplace performance.”

The research, conducted with more than 1000 Australians, found that workplaces can create caring and safe work environments by using their policies, procedures, language, and cultural norms to prioritize and support:

  • Compassion. By encouraging people to reach for curiosity and generosity rather than leaping to assumptions and rushing to judgments, a psychological safe space for learning and allyship is created. Instead of wasting up to two-and-a-half hours of energy per person each day by getting stuck on the hump of politeness, twisted up in personal politics, or wasting energy blaming and shaming each other, compassionate workplaces enable teams to have hard conversations quickly and effectively and move forward together.
  • Appreciation. By encouraging people to ask for help and give each other effective forms of support, genuine opportunities for kindness and gratitude are created. Instead of limiting their resources and opportunities or disregarding the risk of burnout, when help-seeking and help-giving are established as the norm, teams are able to harness their individual and collective strengths more quickly and reduce wasted time and effort.
  • Responsibility. By inviting ownership, clarifying commitments, and supportively holding people accountable, the courage to take responsibility is established. Instead of indulging incompetence, settling for half-hearted compliance, or looking the other way when boundaries and values are crossed, when workplaces insist on personal responsibility and collective accountability, teams step up, learning improves, and better outcomes follow.
  • Emotional Wisdom. By viewing emotions—even the uncomfortable ones—as “information” to be interpreted, emotional wisdom is cultivated. Instead of seeing emotions as “soft,” messy, or best avoided, when workplaces are able to navigate emotions as “data” for their teams, they can harness positive emotions, build a tolerance for being comfortably uncomfortable with negative emotions, and embrace the reality that thriving and struggling fuel resilience and support growth.

Our research found that often by integrating these CARE behaviors into existing workplace routines (team processes), rituals (team practices), rules (workplace policies), and role modeling opportunities (behaviors), levels of safety, well-being, and performance improved significantly for leaders and their teams.

“Unfortunately, while many workplaces are training leaders to ensure they are compliant when it comes to managing psychosocial risks, fewer workplaces are leveraging the new changes in health and safety standards as an opportunity to build on their leaders’ strengths and improve their cultures of care,” Williams said. “But, the truth is when it comes to workplace safety, the data clearly shows that a culture of care beats a culture of compliance.”

How are you helping your leaders build a caring and safe work environment that won’t burn them out?

Want to know how else your leaders and workplace can more effectively and sustainably address psychosocial hazards across your workplace? For a full copy of our research report, click here.

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