Please note that What Works Wellbeing will close operations on 30 April 2024.  Read more
September 2023

What works to reduce burnout in frontline workers?

Identifying, developing and testing low-cost behavioural intervention to improve wellbeing and reduce burnout in the homelessness sector

What works to reduce burnout in frontline workers?
In partnership with

In partnership with local authorities, homelessness charities and the Centre for Homelessness Impact (CHI), we are exploring what works to improve the wellbeing of frontline workers in the homelessness sector.

The project involves the identification, development and testing of low-cost behavioural interventions that reduce burnout. 

We are particularly interested in understanding the outcomes and moderators correlated with improved employee wellbeing, such as social belonging or relationships at work. 

The project has two strands:  

1. Literature review
  • Consolidating the causal evidence on wellbeing and burnout by reviewing intervention research in the context of UK homelessness.
  • Identifying promising low-cost interventions to test in the UK homelessness sector.
2. Trials

Designing and implementing a number of light touch ‘nudge’ type interventions aimed at reducing worker burnout among UK homelessness workers. 

Key findings

The first report, published in January 2024, looks at findings from the literature review, strand 1 of the project. Our blog introduces the review and our briefing summarises insights, recommendations and research implications in more detail.

Using the insights 

CHI will deliver stakeholder engagement workshops to inform the choice of relevant and feasible trials to  deliver in project strand 2. 

Findings from both strands are being used to make recommendations for research funding, trials and policy change on worker wellbeing. 


What is burnout?

Work-related burnout is a state of prolonged physical and psychological exhaustion, which is perceived as related to the person’s work.  Workers in high stress situations are more likely to experience reduced wellbeing and burnout. This can lead to an inability to work effectively or the need to leave their current role or sector.

Frontline charity workers are particularly at risk as their roles often involve confronting human suffering and trauma, and working with people experiencing enormous challenges, often under difficult conditions. 

High-turnover and mitigating risks

Despite the high prevalence of burnout there are still many unanswered questions about mechanisms that cause it and therefore limited evidence on strategies that mitigate its risk. The dual challenge of high burnout and turnover on the front line raises concerns about both worker well-being and the ability of the organisations to deliver services.

Why invest in employee wellbeing?

A number of studies show that investing in employee wellbeing can have potential benefits for an organisation including:

  • Reduced staff turnover
  • Better customer experience
  • Higher creativity

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In this project

Blog - January 2024
What works to reduce frontline worker burnout? Reviewing the evidence
Read more
Briefing - January 2024
What works to alleviate frontline worker burnout?
Read more
Full report - January 2024
Evidence on reducing burnout among frontline workers: a literature review
Read more