How To Talk To Your Boss About Burnout


We’ve all been there: You’re trying your best to keep up with your job, but you just can’t seem to get out of the rut. If you feel like you’re reaching a breaking point at work, it’s time to talk with your boss. It may be scary, but an open and honest conversation with your employer is the best way to figure out how to get back on track and get yourself unstuck. Here’s what I recommend doing if you think burnout might be impacting your performance at work:

Acknowledge that you’re not at your best.

Acknowledge that you’re not at your best. You can’t do everything, and you know it. Your boss won’t expect you to do more than what’s reasonable—they’ll be happy to help with anything extra as long as they know about it ahead of time. This is something that all bosses are aware of, at least subconsciously: no one will ever be able to get everything done without some assistance from their coworkers, which is why they hired them in the first place! In other words, it’s okay if there are things on your plate that would normally fall under another person’s responsibilities (and vice versa).

Your boss might not have noticed how much pressure has been building up because they’ve been focusing on other things—or maybe they just haven’t had a chance yet because they’re so busy themselves right now too! Either way though: by letting them know how much stress this situation has caused in your life, he or she will probably understand better why something like taking tomorrow off would help alleviate some stressors for both parties involved (i.e., himself/herself and yourself).

Explain how you got to this point.

If your boss has never experienced burnout, it may be helpful to explain how and why you got to this point. The support of a boss and a company can be key in helping an employee recover from burnout.

You might say something like: “I’ve been feeling overwhelmed at work lately, which has really impacted my performance. I’m burnt out from long hours and pressure to get things done quickly.” This shows your boss that you’re aware of the problem, but also that you’re not just complaining about being overworked without taking steps to fix it yourself (for example, by asking for help). If possible, share some specific ways in which your job is impacting your health or other areas of life (for example “I’ve been having trouble sleeping” or “I haven’t seen my family in weeks”). It’s important not only to acknowledge how much stress there is on the job but also how it’s affecting aspects of life outside work that are important to us all (like our physical health).

Talk about what you need to get back on track.

Once you’ve identified what’s causing your burnout, it’s time to talk about ways to get back on track. You have a few options.

  • Take a break: Taking time off can be a great way to recharge and refocus—but only if you use that time well. Go away for an extended weekend or even longer (if possible), but don’t forget about the work-life balance! If you’re feeling burnt out due to long hours, make sure you schedule time away from work as well as at work whenever possible so that when you come back after your break, it’s not with renewed energy but with decreased energy.
  • Get some help: Sometimes taking care of ourselves is hard enough; asking someone else for help can seem like an impossible task. But there are plenty of resources available from our companies and communities that can help us find ways past our burnout faster than we’d think possible if we went at it alone! So why not take advantage?
  • Find a new project: When tasks feel overwhelming and unending, it may be helpful to switch gears entirely for awhile before returning with fresh eyes and renewed enthusiasm for what needs doing next—and whatever else may come after that…

Be honest but also be willing to show initiative.

You should also be honest about your needs and limitations. One of the most important things to acknowledge is that you are not at your best, but are hopeful that with some time and effort, you can get there again.

  • Be honest about how you’re feeling. It’s okay to share how you feel when it comes to burnout; in fact, it’s better than bottling up all those emotions until they explode or seep into other areas of your life. If there were two people in an office who were experiencing similar problems—one spoke up about their feelings and got help for them, another stayed silent about what was going on inside them—it would probably be easier for everyone involved if the first person spoke up instead of bottling up those feelings!
  • Be willing to show initiative if necessary: Remember that being proactive is a great way of showing leadership traits which could lead to a more positive outcome than sitting back passively (and letting things get worse).


The conversation with your boss about how to overcome burnout can be challenging, but it’s also an important one to have. It may seem intimidating at first, but if you approach the conversation with empathy, honesty and a willingness to show initiative—you might actually find that your employer can be your best ally in recovering from burnout.