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July 28, 2022 David Malmborg

How to Prevent High Performers From Burning Out

Insights from the Nivati HR Leader Brain Trust

Burnout is widespread among high performers. What can HR leaders do to prevent high performer burnout?

The Nivati HR Leader Brain Trust group came up with some great ways that HR leaders can help reduce the strain on high performers.

The Brain Trust events are a place for HR executives to develop new solutions to modern HR challenges. Below are some challenges that the group has voted to try and solve. To join the group, sign up here.


July Brain Trust Mural


Ideas to Help Prevent High Performer Burnout, Straight From HR Leaders

Here’s what 40+ HR leaders came up with.

1. Allow Flex Schedules and Encourage Taking Time Off
2. Provide Avenues for Growth
3. Recognize Them For Their Accomplishments
4. Create Great Teams They Can Delegate To
5. Help Them Set Boundaries
6. Help Them Build Efficiency
7. Make One-On-Ones a Top Priority
8. Remind Them Of Stress-Relieving Resources
9. Don’t Overload Them

1. Allow Flex Schedules and Encourage Taking Time Off

Many high performers are self-motivated and less likely to take breaks. They may have trouble unplugging and truly relaxing.

You can help high performers care for themselves by encouraging them to take time for themselves and work during their most productive hours of the day. Blocking off times of lower productivity for lunch breaks or micro-breaks throughout the day can also prevent burnout.

“Watching their vacation time. Make sure you have the backup support so they can take time off and actually unplug. Give them a half day randomly when you can. Talk to them about taking care of themselves. Lead by example.” – Ben

2. Provide Avenues for GrowthHow to Prevent High Performers From Burning Out - woman with hands on head looking down at laptop feeling stressed

High performers are always looking for ways to grow. Here are some ways to help them scratch that itch:

  • Provide promotion opportunities
  • Give career advancement, management, and other professional trainings
  • Connect them to a mentor that they can relate to and trust
  • Assign them special projects that are outside of their ordinary daily work

When high performers feel stagnant or don’t have opportunities to learn and grow in their daily work, they are more susceptible to burnout.

“Providing flexibility and encouraging (requiring) downtime (or assigning activities that give the high performer a change of pace).” – Bill

3. Recognize Them For Their Accomplishments

Everyone loves positive reinforcement. Don’t take your high performers for granted.

An excellent long-term solution to low amounts of recognition in the workplace is creating a culture of gratitude and feedback. These resources can help with that:

4. Create Great Teams They Can Delegate To

Don’t let your high performers become lone wolves. Build incredible teams that high performers can delegate tasks to. Then, teach them how to do it so they aren’t doing everything.

Good team structure and communication go a long way.

5. Help Them Set Boundaries

Allow them to say “no”. No isn’t a bad word. It is standing up for yourself to remain productive and at your best.

You can also help managers set work-life boundaries, boundaries with coworkers, etc. This video explains how to do it.

6. Help Them Build Efficiency

Automation can take incredible workers to the next level.

Employees can use automation to:

  • Reduce time spent on manual tasks
  • Remind employees to take breaks and work on reoccurring tasks
  • Help employees build more consistent work habits

Provide employees access to tools that can help them build efficiency. You can also hold a workshop with a life coach on how to increase productivity.

7. Make One-On-Ones a Top Priority

One-on-one meetings are an excellent time to prioritize, work through challenges, problem solve,

and even talk through mental health challenges.

“Ask them what motivates them. Listen to them and make it happen if it’s feasible.” – Cheryl

8. Remind Them Of Stress-Relieving Resources

Your mental health program, EAP, and other wellness benefits are all examples.

9. Don’t Overload Them

While it may be tempting for managers to give their high performers more and more work, insist that they resist the temptation.

“Evaluate and re-evaluate regularly the level of work assigned while keeping realistic expectations.” – Susan

One HR leader summed up all these suggestions quite well:

“First of all, truly define the definition of high performers, be super realistic and consistent on what that categorization means for your organization. Then focus services (coaching, support, development, reward) on this group as a differentiated work stream. The trick is removing the politics from the identification of this group in my experience.” – Dave

For further reading on burnout, check out:


Learn About the Power of Self-Care

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