Have you seen people working if Office for 12 or 15 hours a day? The productivity of such employees is always in question. Most corporates now understand the importance of work-life balance, but in small companies, you will still see long work hours. Employee Burnout is a prime reason for employees working long hours.

What is Employee Burnout?

Burnout is a result of exhausting physical or emotional strength. It happens for multiple reasons and not just working for long hours. It is a combination of multiple factors.

Causes of Employee Burnout

Overload: If the work is much more than an employee can handle, he/she always ends up doing overtime. In this case, work-sharing or re-allocation is required as overtime is not a long-term solution.

Multi-Tasking: In Startup/Small Company there is always multi-tasking need. You can’t have one employee doing work for two people. The multi-tasking eventually can result in doing two/three jobs where each job demands a full time person.

Conflict of Responsibilities/Lack of Interest: This situation is even worse, and two employees may be doing the same/overlapping work with conflicts. Conflict is another cause of burnout. If there is an everyday fight in the Office about who is supposed to complete a particular task, it is going to result in burnout. Lack of an employee interest in a particular task will also result in employee somehow completing the task rather than taking an interest.

Stress at the Job: If you are involved in counting cash throughout the day, and any mistake is your responsibility, it results in stress. For any task, if you are always worried that some mistake may happen and it may have serious implications, it results in stress.

Lack of Support at Office: If you see that one employee is staying till late in the office every day and all others are leaving at the right time, it is a cause for concern. Such employee may be lacking support from other employees and is not getting it. In such cases, the supervisors have to interfere and find out the unequal distribution of work and provide the required support.

Lack of Social Support: If the employee has no support from his/her family and friends to continue in the job, it can result in inefficiency. Having only a physical presence in the office and thinking about something else is of no use.

Lack of Guidance: If a task someone is completing in 4 hours can be done in 2 hours, that person need training or guidance. Even if each employee is supposed to complete their work, lack of proper guidance results in overall inefficiency and burnout of some employees.

With these reasons, the employees burnout and ultimately do a poor job. They are not mentally 100% present in the office and will look for other jobs. Doing long hours of work does not mean they are doing productive work.

What is Productive Working?

Productive working is completing the tasks assigned to you in lowest possible time with quality. Those employees who can do this are more productive than the myopic long hour workers.

Factors for being more Productive

Passionate: If you like what you do, obviously you will be much more productive than what you are in a job you don’t like. It starts with selecting the right people for right job. The freelance gigs websites can help with hiring right freelancers as well.

Realistic Work Allocation: As an employer or supervisor, you should assign realistic tasks to employees. The employees should also have a dialog with employer/supervisor about how many tasks they can complete. This dialog is important and should result in achievable targets. Same thing applies to accepting freelance work which you can manage.

Keeping Reasonable Office Time: Your Office timings can’t be 12 hours (with same employees). The Office may be open for 24 X 7, but then employees should be working in 3 shifts. Having reasonable work hours is must and mandated by law in most countries.

Training/Coaching: Training on skills, time-management, effective working and ways to improve the quality of your work are all important. No organisation can become smarter or more efficient without employees getting any training.

Experienced and New Workforce: One team can’t have all experienced folks and another one with all new employees. The balance of team members is extremely important. You will see this happening in IT Startups and even big IT companies also.

Work-Life Balance: If the employees have a good work-life balance, they will always be more productive. If they can spare some time for daily exercise, family time and some entertainment/relaxation time, they will be more productive during the business hours.

Time Saving/Organised: Each employee should consider how many hours of their total work day are productive hours. If they are spending a lot of time in non-productive hours, they may be stretching themselves at the end of the day. Having an organised day is very important to be more productive.

Delegation: For employees like supervisors/managers who have delegation authority should use them. Not believing the staff or trying to do all tasks by yourself leads to over work, frustration, and discomfort amongst employees. Delegation with accountability is important for everyone.

Team Building: The Team building exercises are an important part of corporate culture. The same should be adapted in small businesses as well. It creates positive energy, trust, and bonding between the team members. These exercises along with some new techniques like corporate games are helping the productivity of employees.


In short, if you hire people with right attitude and liking towards the job, train and mentor them they will have a good start. Later, you can teach them how to manage their time effectively and have a work-life balance for them. Rather than hiring people who say that they are ready to work 15 hours a day, you can have people who can complete the same work in 8 productive hours each day. It is beneficial for the organisation as well as for the employees.