Digital marketing

Burnout is almost inevitable for most employees, but one group that’s especially at risk is high achievers. 

It makes sense. Your highest achieving workers are putting tremendous time, energy, and effort into their projects and striving for more, which puts enormous pressure on their shoulders. 

And while 76% of high achievers are enthusiastic about their work, over half of them are feeling burnt out. 

In this blog, we’ll cover signs that your high achievers might be feeling burnt out, strategies to lessen the impact, and the role marketing leadership can have in minimizing burnout across your employees.

What Does Burnout Look Like?

Burnout presents differently in everyone and comes in different levels of severity, but there are a few tell-tale signs that will signal it’s time to make some important changes. 

One common symptom of burnout is decreased productivity. When you start to notice that a high-performing employee is missing deadlines or is slow to respond, burnout is likely to blame. This sign often goes hand-in-hand with decreased communication because burnt-out workers may feel embarrassed to admit they need to extend a deadline or haven’t been on top of their objectives. 

Burnout can also present as detachment or lack of engagement. You might notice a usually outgoing person is less inclined to speak. Perhaps they aren’t attending company or team events anymore. Maybe they are volunteering less information about how they are feeling—both personally and professionally. And in speaking with a burnt-out employee, you might notice that their demeanor has changed in some way. They could be more tense, critical of themselves, or excessively apologetic. 

Finally, you might start noticing an increased turnover rate. This symptom can both indicate that burnout is happening in your organization, prompting employees to find work elsewhere, and it can forecast impending burnout for the employees who remain. Those who choose to stay will likely have to take on more work to compensate for the gaps in the organization, which puts them at risk for burnout. 

Now that you know what to look out for, let’s cover strategies for mitigating burnout before it gets unmanageable. 

Related: 6 Ways a Fractional CMO Can Help Your Business Manage Capacity Issues and Increased Demand

How to Manage and Minimize Burnout

Burnout doesn’t immediately spell disaster. One of the first—and most obvious—ways to nip it in the bud is to consistently communicate with your high achievers.  

These don’t have to be long meetings, but they should be frequent enough that you’ll know right away that an employee might need some additional support or help delegating tasks. Prioritize these meetings, and try not to reschedule unless you must. This will prove to your employees that you care about their professional well-being.  

Another thing to keep in mind is to lead by example. If your team members rarely see you take vacation time or regularly notice you put in long hours or work weekends, they will assume the same is expected of them. By prioritizing balance yourself, your team members will feel comfortable doing the same. 

And the more comfortable your employees are with you, the easier it will be for them to learn one important word: “No.” Make it clear that not everything can be done—at least not right away—and it’s justified to prioritize higher-value projects over others. This is especially true for small teams that simply can’t take on the work a much larger group could. 

While managing burnout is certainly possible, one way you can get ahead of the issue before it infects your marketing team is by finding the right marketing leader. Let’s talk about why. 

Related: Building Marketing Teams: How a Fractional CMO Can Help

Stopping Burnout Starts at the Top

Burnout isn’t an isolated event. When your organization has a culture of never saying “no,” putting in excessive hours, and not prioritizing balance or time off, those effects will be seen everywhere.  

For your marketing organization, finding the right CMO can mean prioritizing balance across your team. That doesn’t mean you have to scramble to find the budget for a full-time CMO, though. 

A fractional CMO can work directly with your team, delegate tasks, identify unbalanced work, and help with priority setting—all at a fraction of the cost. Using the shared cost model, you pay partial CMO costs for all the benefits you would expect from a full-time leader. 

Working with a fractional CMO isn’t like hiring an agency or a consultant. They’re not “outsiders.” Instead, they integrate with your team. This means they can do the work to identify burnout within your team and figure out strategies for minimizing stress, reassigning tasks, and promoting better work-life balance. 

When that happens, you won’t just have less burnout—you’ll have a much more efficient marketing engine that churns out the results you expect more regularly. 

Related: 5 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Efficiency

Support Your High Achievers With a Fractional CMO

Even if you think you can handle burnout on your own, don’t think you have to be the only one taking care of the issue. After all—minimizing burnout for your team shouldn’t mean putting yourself at risk of burning out.

You can schedule a free, 30-minute consultation with a fractional CMO to see how they can help you tackle the problem and get your marketing strategy in tip-top shape.


Need guidance on how AI tools can help your business enhance your marketing approach?

 Check out The Role of AI in Marketing for practical advice and insights from real-world peers.

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