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A Unique Way to Prevent Burnout and Turnover ... (research identifies the power of workplace community and identity)

One of the issues that leads to turnover in an organization is employee burnout.  Burnout leads to absenteeism, which causes other employees to have to work harder or extra hours, leading to more burnout, and thus increasing turnover as employees seek to escape the stressful environment. 

Historically, efforts to reduce burnout and turnover may have included trying to offer more days off, additional recruiting, clarity about work schedules, better equipment, better pay, greater recognition, etc.  Yet researchers recently found a simple and inexpensive tool that created a significant reduction in burnout among employees in one high stress industry and dramatically reduced turnover.

Community & Identity

There is evidence that professional identity and sense of community built by shared experiences leads to a decrease in career burnout.  The research conducted in nine cities and with 500 subjects, involved weekly emails that would seek to create a sense of comradery, understanding, and reflection of the values of those in the selected position.  

What did they highlight?  The emails, sent from supervisors or management, would ask questions related to subjects such as:

  • The qualities of a great mentor
  • A moment when they found humor in the job
  • An experience that exemplifies doing the job well
  • Advice for new employees in that position

​​​​​​​The behavioral scientists crafted the language of the prompts with the goal of developing a strong sense of professional identity.  Additionally, answering the questions put the respondents in the position of “advice giver” which brings with it a sense of status and importance.

What did they do with this?  The following week’s “storytelling” email would be crafted from responses the week before, including:

  • A featured response, and a link to all responses submitted.
  • All responses were kept confidential and anonymous. 
  • Researchers sought to demonstrate how employees could support and strengthen each other through social connectedness.

What was the result?  After the six week study ended, the largest effects were surprisingly seen four months later: an 8-point reduction in the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (which is an incredibly significant change) and a 50% reduction in resignations.

The lead researcher, Elizabeth Linos, offered this perspective, “What do you do about it when you can’t double people’s salary or decrease their job demands or take away the stress? …There’s only so much you can do to change the nature of the job itself. What this study finds is that you can change the work environment in ways that are meaningful.”  She also advised, “I would read this research and I would think much more seriously about how I’m building social connectedness, belonging and inclusion at work.”

In addition to creating community and inclusion, Select Advantage can also help with burnout and turnover by making sure you hire people who are the right fit for the job.  If you are not already using our assessments, please contact us today to find out how our assessments match the behaviors of your applicants to the behaviors of superior employees.


PO Box 872245
Vancouver, WA 98687