Addressing Burnout in Supply Chain Management


According to recent research, supply chain managers left their jobs last year at the highest rate since 2016. Unsurprisingly, burnout was a contributing factor in their decision.

Not only were supply chain management professionals tasked with their routine duties, but they were also faced with unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic. It’s no wonder burnout caught up with them.

A burnt-out supply chain manager can cause enormous harm to the workplace.

For instance, they cannot lead their team effectively, significantly reducing productivity. They won’t be able to train their employees to safely use tools, which could lead to severe physical injuries. They also won’t be able to offer the emotional support many team members need to succeed.

To avoid the above fate, supply chain managers must address burnout. Keep reading for guidance on prioritizing your holistic health and alleviating some of the pressure you feel daily to fend off burnout successfully.

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Understand What Burnout Really Is

First and foremost, you must understand what burnout really is to address it adequately. It is more than being sick of your job. Instead, burnout is a legitimate medical diagnosis for which the World Health Organization (WHO) gives three diagnostic criteria:

1. Depleted energy and exhaustion
2. Feeling pessimistic, cynical, or mentally distanced from one’s job
3. Less professional efficacy

Not only are you likely to experience all of the above, but you’re likely to have the symptoms for a prolonged period. Pay special attention to how you feel over a few weeks and see if the above persist. If they do, it’s safe to say you’re experiencing burnout.

Analyze the Root Cause of Burnout

Of course, you can treat the symptoms of burnout. But that won’t result in long-term change. Addressing the root cause of your burnout will. So, once you know that you’re experiencing burnout, analyze the root cause of it.

One root cause could be the unexpected challenges presented by the pandemic. For example, there were massive shipping delays. Shipping prices increased and affected the relationships suppliers have with businesses. And warehouses lost many workers.

Forced to deal with all these new issues, many supply chain managers burned out.

You can determine the root cause of your burnout by conducting a root cause analysis. With this analysis, you can identify what’s at the bottom of your burnout and develop tangible solutions for it. The framework of a root cause analysis is:

1. Define the problem you need to solve
2. Brainstorm what’s causing the problem
3. Come up with solutions for that cause
4. Put those solutions to work
5. Monitor the results and make adjustments as needed

Take your time working through each step to ensure your bouts with burnout lessen.

Embrace Technology

When a workplace isn’t set up to support the responsibilities of its workers, it will take a lot more effort to get things done — and always having to put in an incredible effort to do even the most minor tasks will lead to burnout.

Supply chain managers need to embrace technology to upgrade outdated processes and systems. This reduces their workloads, mitigating workplace stress and, ultimately, burnout.

Automation tools are a great example of innovative technology to implement. These tools can take repetitive tasks off your hands and automate them for better efficiency and accuracy, allowing you to focus on more meaningful work.

Take a look at your current processes and systems. Determine which ones can benefit from a technology upgrade. Then, pick the most pressing one on your list and begin researching the best options.

Normalize Mental Health in the Workplace

Even though workplaces across the country are trying to make mental health more of a priority, we still have a long way to go, especially in the supply chain industry. Like many work environments, supply chain employees are expected to work fast, meet deadlines, and keep their issues to themselves.

But this can’t be your workplace if you want to truly address burnout. Normalizing discussions about nurturing mental health and emotional well-being is crucial. Being open about it as a manager will help you and support your employees going through the same thing.

So, talk openly about mental health. Discuss what you’re going through and how you’re addressing it. Be honest with your team when you’re experiencing burnout. Take time off too. You’ll convince yourself and show your employees that addressing mental health isn’t just okay but encouraged.

Create a More Balanced Life

One of the most critical steps to address burnout is creating a more balanced life. As essential as you are to your workplace, your role as a supply chain manager isn’t your whole life. So, don’t treat it as such.

Of course, there will be days and weeks when overtime is necessary. But for the most part, establish reasonable work hours and stick with them. When you leave your job for the day, leave your responsibilities there. That way, you can genuinely enjoy time with loved ones and other passions when you go home.

Incorporate Professional Mental Health Help as Needed

Sometimes, it’s hard for people to ask for help. If that’s you, do your best to rid yourself of this bad habit and learn to ask for additional support from a mental health professional when you need it.

Mental health professionals are adept in burnout and can help you develop a personalized treatment plan. Identify what kind of support you need first, and then research a mental health professional in your area specializing in that.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to participate in long-term therapy or extended mental health programs. Instead, you can incorporate professional mental health help when needed most.


Burnout in supply chain management is real. Supply chain workplaces and warehouses worldwide are at risk if it isn’t addressed. Start with yourself and implement the tips above to address burnout adequately.