How to Avoid Employee Burnout in Warehouse Work

By TERRA Staffing Group

Posted on November 19, 2020

Photo of warehouse worker pulling a stacker trolley.

For warehouse managers, burnt out employees can have a dramatic effect on your workplace’s productivity, and may send a ripple effect throughout your organization. This common occurrence affects much more than productivity in today’s warehouses.

Gallup reports 23% of full-time workers reported being always or very often burned out at their job, according to a 2018 study. It also said another 44% were sometimes burned out. In all, about two-thirds of full-time workers are burned out. Despite awareness and changing policies in today’s workplaces, employee burnout is still on the rise. Find out how to keep employees from burning out, even when working with longer hours and tight deadlines.

What Are the Consequences of Employee Burnout?

Gallup says a worker burnout crisis is engulfing organizations. Although many consider stress an expected part of working, employee burnout can trigger a ripple effect that impacts both workers and businesses.

For Employees

Burnout can affect many aspects of an employees’ livelihood. Common consequences of burnout include a desire to give up the profession, abandonment of job, and an increase of fatigue and stress. Healthwise, workers experiencing burnout may also see an increase in coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

It’s important for employees to communicate burnout to their employers so they can assist in minimizing these symptoms. We recommend employers open a doorway for workers to talk about these issues, should they arise.

Stanford University Graduate School of Business reported that 120,000 deaths a year can be attributed to work-related stress.

For Businesses

All this stress felt by workers can impact the workplace negatively. says there are three main consequences for workplaces that don’t solve employee burnout:

  1. Decreased productivityA study by IZA World of Labor indicates that happy workers are more productive, which confirms that stressed workers drag down productivity.
  2. High turnover rate – The Center for American Progress says companies spend up to 213% of an employee’s salary to cover the costs of finding a replacement.
  3. Low employee engagement – Unhappy employees will generally hide their dissatisfaction from colleagues and bosses, according to the Houston Chronicle. This can manifest itself in a refusal to participate in company activities, lack of concern for quality of work, among other employee burnout signs, as shown below.

What Are the Signs & Causes of Employee Burnout?

It’s important for employers to recognize some common signs of worker burnout. Being easily upset or angered, recurring sickness, cynicism towards people and their job, and an inability to concentrate are some red flags for managers to look out for. If a manager sees signs of burnout across employees or has been directly told of burnout, they should be aware of the common causes so they can assist in decreasing it. A Gallup study identified these five major causes of burnout:

Unclear Definition of Roles

Workers can be given roles or tasks that are ill-defined or for which they have insufficient training. Up to 40% of workers say they don’t have a strong sense of what is expected of them at work, according to the State of the American Workplace report.

Uncommunicative or Unsupportive Managers

A 2019 survey by Dynamic Signal indicates that 80% of U.S. workers say they’re stressed because of ineffective company communication. Also, 7% say they feel overwhelmed because of broken communication methods and fragmented information.

Unfair Treatment at Work

Perceived favoritism, or unfair attacks, contribute to stress of workers. When employees feel they are treated unfairly, they are 2.3 times more likely to experience a high level of burnout, according to Gallup. Unfair treatment can come from a coworker exhibiting bias, favoritism and mistreatment or a workplace employing unfair compensation or policies.

Unmanageable Workload

When their workload is out of control, employees look for help from fellow employees and managers, which may or may not be coming. Even top employees can quickly shift from optimistic to hopeless as they sink deeper into an unmanageable workload.

Unreasonable Time Pressure

Long warehouse shifts, including overnight shifts, can cause stress and fatigue. Add the repetitive nature of warehouse work and the perfect environment for burnout is created. Unworkable deadlines and pressure can cause workers to fall behind, increasing the stress.

Take the Quiz: How Strong Is Your Company Culture?

Do office politics and gossip rule your office? Do employees have opportunities for continued learning and clear paths for advancement? Do you have defined values that resonate with employees? If you’re curious how strong your company culture is, take our quiz to find out.

Take the Quiz

How to Combat Employee Burnout

Your employees spend a great deal of time at work, and they need support from management and HR professionals. Warehouse managers need to be proactive about their workers’ work-life balance, while keeping lines of communication open.

Some high-level tips for avoiding burnout in warehouse employees include:

  • Encourage social support and respect among team members through video chats.
  • Enforce reasonable work hours, including encouraging breaks.
  • Ensure employees have the resources they need.
  • Help assess workloads for those who may feel pressured to work beyond normal business hours.
  • Offer ongoing training.
  • Provide clear, realistic expectations and make sure those expectations are understood.
  • Show employees their value and contributions to the organization’s goals.

In short, the key is to foster a healthy work culture. Although this can be difficult to do with the additional pressures of running an active warehouse, employees see when companies and leaders in the organization try their best and can feel better about their work.

Maintain Open Communication with Your Workers

Communication with your workers is a two-way street. While it is crucial for your employees to understand their responsibilities and your expectations for them, a big source of stress at work comes from not feeling heard. A recent study from Salesforce Research found that when an employee feels heard, they are nearly five times as likely to feel empowered to excel at their jobs. 

Some effective ways to promote communication at your workplace include weekly company meetings, suggestion boxes, and one-on-one meetings with your employees. Individual meetings between employees and managers are especially effective for preventing burnout. According to Workfront, one-on-one meetings promote stronger relationships, improve productivity, and offer opportunities to establish a meaningful back-and-forth dialogue about goals and professional development. 

Pay Attention to Scheduling

Warehouse and logistics work is prone to seasonality, and productivity ebb-and-flow is to be expected. During times of heavy production demand, keep a careful eye on scheduling. Working overtime for consecutive days in a row is draining, so be strategic when with your workers’ schedules. 

A few strategies for effective scheduling:

  • Flexible hours: A growing body of research indicates flexible work hours promotes job satisfaction and reduces employee burnout. A 2016 study from the MIT Sloan School of Management found that giving employees more control over their work schedules promotes employee well-being, with notable reductions in stress overall. Communicate with your employees to determine schedules that best suit their needs, but ensure they align with your organization’s capabilities.
  • Anticipate demand and stagger schedules: By nature, warehouse work can be unpredictable. However, historical internal production data at your organization may be a valuable tool to forecast labor needs. If a seasonal high-demand time is forecasted, adjust the schedule to give your workers relief before, during, or after the higher demand time.
  • Promote work-life balance: There are a few ways managers can promote (and even enforce) work-life balance. Mandatory breaks, early-outs on low demand days, encouraging use of vacation time, and “unplugged” hours (where emails cannot be sent outside of work hours) have been shown to reduce burnout while promoting a better balance between working life and personal time. 

How Terra Staffing Can Help Meet Your Employment Needs

TERRA Staffing Group helps employers find high quality workers. For staffing solutions that work for organizations like yours, find one our branches today. For more information about keeping employees engaged and improving company culture, view our webinar, “Minding the Middle: The Key to Engagement and Culture Change,” for proven strategies.


Categories: Employee Engagement Ideas


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