When an employee tells you they’re burned out, regardless of what’s on your plate, set aside a dedicated time to have a one-on-one conversation about their experience.
Be sure to let them fully express their thoughts without interrupting. Allow their words to sink in: Wait about seven seconds, or approximately two deep breaths, before responding. Don’t jump to conclusions about their feelings or what the cause may be. Instead, practice active listening by repeating back what you’ve heard and asking if you’ve understood them correctly.
Once you have a sense of their experience, ask them about what’s underlying it. Simple questions like “What are your biggest stressors?” or “When have you felt stressed or burned out most recently?” can help you get an idea of the root causes.
Finally, ask how you can help them in the short- and long-term. Take some time to consider their needs and craft a plan to support them—and monitor their burnout—in a way that’s viable and sustainable.