How to put out burnout in your organization

Ron Kitchens Headshot


By Ron Kitchens*, whose blog can be found at .



Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. – Rumi

If your team is starting to show signs of wear and tear or “burnout” as we call it at Southwest Michigan First, do not fear. There are many ways you can engage with your team to put out burnout and improve the work environment almost immediately. Here’s a few I like best:

  • The team has to know that the leader appreciates them. Simple things can be done to show appreciation – even things that seem silly. When you first join our team at Southwest Michigan First, we ask you what you like to drink. So, if you’re a Yoohoo fan (only the world’s greatest processed chocolate beverage) or love to drink Diet Dr. Pepper, we’ll get it for you and stock it in the refrigerator. It’s an easy way to show appreciation and show someone they are important.  Great leaders also write notes to tell team members they are doing great work and “thank you.” Small acts of appreciation go a long way. 
  • Acknowledge success when it happens. Why do we want to wait until a calendar period to acknowledge success, annually or quarterly? We don’t want until the end of the game to applaud athletes. We applaud them when they come up to bat, we applaud them when they get a hit and we applaud when they round third base to score at home. There’s a reason there is a home field advantage. If athletes perform better with more encouragement, why not apply that principle to our teams? Let’s applaud and encourage our teams in real-time. 
  • Give your team the resources they need to succeed. Sometimes we get so caught up in achieving goals or hitting our measures that we forget to ask, do you have what you need to succeed? It is the leader’s responsibility to ask that question at every turn. We need to ensure our team has the time, talent and treasure they need to meet the challenges we set before them or they will get discouraged.
  • Make your team take vacation – even if it’s a “staycation.” I never hear leaders protest that they are giving their team too much vacation time at the beginning of the year. But, at the end of the year, I inevitably hear leaders complain that their teams all have to take off the last several weeks of the year because they have tons of unused vacation time. As the leader, you are to blame for that. You didn’t give them permission, or push them, to use that time during the year. The best performing people have to recharge their batteries. Your team will perform better if they know they have permission to take time off with the leader’s full support and the support of their team to know their jobs will be somewhat taken care of in their absence.
  • Good leaders focus on wellness. And this is not necessarily fitness. You don’t have to spend money on remodeling a fitness room for your team or on personal trainers. Leaders need to address wellness where it meets the needs of the team. Maybe your team is struggling with financial concerns of making their mortgage payment or where to send their child to daycare. If we take care of these stressors in the lives of our teams through offering financial coaching or daycare referrals, our team members will perform better. Take a holistic approach when it comes to wellness at your organization and think outside the box.
  • Help people see their career future within or outside of your organization. You can’t want more for people than they want for themselves, but you can find out what they want by simply asking! What do you want for your future? It’s the leader’s job to help team members achieve the jobs of the dreams. Use your resources to open doors for your team. Give your time in coaching their leadership. The better we expand, grow and build leaders, the better our organizations will be.
  • Compensate your team generously. Money isn’t everything, but it is a tangible way that you can show your team how much you value them. Team members may leave our organization to pursue a different career path or to take the next step in achieving their dream job, but I will not let someone leave solely because they feel underpaid or underappreciated.
  • Know your team’s family. Invite family members to visit the office and “get to know” where their parent or child or spouse works. Host summer picnics or holiday parties and invite family members to show your appreciation for the time they sacrifice while their loved ones work for you. Celebrate children’s birthdays and send thank you notes to families when their loved ones are away on business travel. Family members should be an integrated extension of your work team. There is no better way to show a team member you care about them than by caring for their family.

We are in a generation where people demand the best out of their employer. We can’t get people to stay in our organizations and achieve great things if they don’t feel like leaders care about them. Great leaders care about people first. If you hire great people, engage them around the mission and vision of the organization and show them you care, they will wow you with the things they achieve. 

Question: What simple change can you make in your organization today that will impact your team in a positive way?


*This guest post is authored by Ron Kitchens who learned the power of a job at an early age and has endeavored to share this revelation in the best way that he knows how since — by creating jobs to contribute to the elimination of poverty and vulnerability. With more than three decades in economic development, Ron is now chief executive officer of the Southwest Michigan First Group of Companies, a cluster of privately funded economic development advisors who act as the catalyst for economic growth in Southwest Michigan. Ron is a nationally sought-after speaker and best-selling author whose works include Community Capitalism: Lessons from Kalamazoo and Beyond. You can follow Ron on his blog, Always Forward at, or on any of his social media sites: Twitter (@ronkitchens), Facebook or LinkedIn.


I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

2 comments on “How to put out burnout in your organization

  1. While watching the Oscars I noticed that almost every award winner said they couldn’t have done it without their team, family, and the support of others. The fact is no one achieves success alone. We all need a great team to accomplish great things. We are at our best when we are surrounded by those who want the best for us and when we are bringing out the best in others.

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