Avoiding Nonprofit Employee Burnout

Burnout is a serious problem for nonprofits. It overwhelms passionate and dedicated staff, decreasing their effectiveness and often pushing them to leave positions prematurely. A recent study by Nonprofit HR concluded that nonprofits need to develop stronger strategies to minimize burnout and the turnover that comes with it and ensuring staff retention.


Defining Burnout

Burnout is a psychological response to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest.


ESC Consultant and HR expert Dave Kourtz recently presented a workshop on burnout prevention to nonprofit leaders on the North Shore. He provided the audience with the following strategies for avoiding nonprofit employee burnout:

  • Defining employee roles and setting clear expectations.
    • While nonprofit jobs can and do change, it is important for employees to know what is expected of them.
  • Implementing reward/recognition systems.
    • Specific and timely recognition of an individual or (even better) a team fosters sense of pride and appreciation. Ask employees how they would like to be recognized.
  • Highlighting employee contributions to the organization’s mission
    • Nonprofit employees are motivated by a sense of purpose and a love of mission. Help them to see how their work furthers the cause of the organization.
  • Providing opportunities for professional development
    • This can include assigning special projects, asking employees to mentor new hires, and leadership opportunities as well as access to trainings and workshops.

ESC Consultants like Dave Kourtz offer a wealth of information and strategic advice that can help nonprofits avoid employee burnout and promote a happier and more productive office environment. Staff are many organizations’ greatest resource, and burnout is just one of many HR-related challenges that nonprofits face.


To find out more about how ESC of New England can help your organization attract, train, and retain talent, click here.