The Rise of Churnout and How to Manage It - employee burnout.

The Rise of Churnout — and How to Manage It

May 24, 2023

Part of a series of blogs expanding on the findings of the latest ROI Benchmark.

It’s such an easy pun I’m surprised no else has come up with it:

Churnout (noun, portmanteau of “churn” and “burnout”): A type of exhaustion employees experience when the challenges of everyday work combine with the friction from constant change within an organization.

The evidence for churnout is everywhere — in business articles, LinkedIn posts and, quite likely, your own professional experience. It’s also reflected in the latest ROI Benchmark report, which asked communications professionals to identify the biggest challenges facing their companies. Two of the most common responses were continuous organizational change (44%) and high employee burnout (43%), and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see that those data points likely inform each other.

Internal communications teams often work at the intersection of these challenges, responsible for keeping employees engaged while simultaneously delivering news they don’t necessarily want to hear. This can make them victims of churnout themselves, even as they address it in their audiences. It can be a demoralizing mixture, and there’s no magic formula for mitigating its potency.

Still, there are many things communicators can do to ensure their output doesn’t simply add more fodder to their audiences’ daily grind, not to mention their own.

  • Keep it human – Sensitive moments aren’t the time for jargon and corporate-speak. Put empathy and compassion at the center of communications, especially those that deliver messages about change that is difficult.
  • Foreground the “why” – When change occurs, or something new is added, be completely clear about the reasons by tracing them back to the company’s strategy.
  • Open channels for dialogue – Talking about change is never a one-way street, so make sure employees can ask questions — and get answers. This is ideally in a combination of venues: all-hands meetings, Slack discussions, manager/team gatherings, etc.
  • Reward and recognize – Showing appreciation for the efforts of individuals and teams goes a long way to helping them feel engaged and involved, especially when they’re feeling vulnerable.
  • Prioritize against the noise – The ROI Benchmark also reveals that a challenge cited by 50% of surveyed communicators is “too much noise,” which includes internal messages. Find ways to turn down the volume across the board so the most important content can ring out loudest.

This list is only a starting place, of course. Every organization has unique opportunities to leverage its distinct culture and values to help fight churnout. And feel free to use the term yourself in the meantime — that one’s on us!

More about The ROI Benchmark:


Jeff Lewonczyk ROI Internal Communication Agency Employee.
Jeff Lewonczyk

Director, Specialist

Jeff is a strategist and award-winning illustrator with a background in theater, music and arts advocacy. A resident of Brooklyn, he directs musical comedies and helps clients connect with their audiences through compelling stories and messaging.