What is generosity burnout and how to avoid it?

Generosity Burnout was first coined in a 2017 essay published by Harvard Business Press, Wharton professor of management Adam Grant and researcher Reb Rebele as “generosity fatigue.”

If you’re a Helper who goes above and beyond to help others and strives for greatness, you probably love being the one on whom everyone counts and whose additional effort, devotion, and contribution are appreciated. However, issues might arise when you say “yes” to too many things at once or when it’s assumed that you will.

These high expectations from coworkers and even your boss may quickly lead to mental, bodily, and emotional stress. The researchers cautioned that if great extra milers, frequently relied on and expected to take on other jobs and their own, were overburdened by demands, their worth would diminish. Today, we will discuss the causes and dangers of generosity burnout and how to avoid them immediately.

Are you suffering from Generosity Burnout?

If a person is going through any of the symptoms below, one should take immediate action to avoid it. According to Grant and Rebele, the main symptoms of generosity burnout are:

what is generosity burnout? how to avoid generosity burnout?

Lack of engagement

One may discover that they are so preoccupied with meeting everyone else’s needs that they no longer have time for the people who matter most to you, such as your team members, clients, or even family members. They may grow irritated if you don’t engage with them.

Physical and emotional burnout

When there are frequent demands on your time, generosity fatigue can emerge. It’s possible that you’re being tugged in too many ways simultaneously. This will most certainly affect the quality of your daily job and cause exhaustion, tension, and even illness.

Resentment and poor morale

You may begin to hate your coworkers’ demands, and expectations, especially if saying “no” to them is difficult for you. If you don’t handle your resentment, it will damage your performance, morale, and emotional well-being.

Poor performance in others

Other team members may exploit your generosity and become overly reliant on you, leading to complacency and inefficiency. If you are absent or decide to quit the organisation, this might also raise the danger of the team’s work being delayed or of declining quality.

10 Proven Steps to Avoid Generosity Burnout

Here are ten research-based ways to avoid giver burnout:

Always set some Boundaries

According to Adam Grant and Reb Rebelle, “Those who contribute to the organisations (who provide the most direct help, take the most initiative and make the greatest proposals) across sectors secure their own lives to work for their very own goals.”

Figure out where you can offer help that is something unique and meaningful

If you’re a great writer, don’t offer to teach someone how to use Excel macros simply because you’ve done it before. That’s definitely something they could acquire from a number of other individuals, and it doesn’t play to your particular talents.

Help Proactively rather than Reactively.

This can be a kind of limit and energy rather than depletion. You could offer to introduce someone to you if somebody asks that you read their book but don’t have enough time to read it. By connecting, you are still contributing but protecting your time.

Be Careful about Scope Creep

One of the most taxing types of aid is when what you believed was a once was a regular commitment. Be aware of the extent and capabilities of your time.

Scale and amplify your help when possible

If you receive dozens of requests for a specific type of assistance each week, try putting up a Google hangout to assist everyone at once. If you receive the same questions a lot, make a FAQ sheet to distribute, or ask someone you help to pay it forward by sharing what they learned from you.

Take the 5-minute favour.

Can you get someone close to their objective in 5 minutes or less by introducing them to a person, article, or another resource that may be useful to them? (Civitas is an excellent example of a five-minute favour!)

Prioritise your commitments

According to Adam, family comes first, followed by pupils, coworkers, and finally everyone else. He can tell when to say yes and when to say no because he has that internal hierarchy. Please make your own priority list and use it as a guide when someone requests assistance.

You may or may not have an excellent “taker” radar as a donor, but you should learn to recognise those who would drain you without paying it forward.

Increased tension, anger, frustration, and other symptoms might occur. Pay special attention to resentment. If you answer yes to a request for assistance, will you resent the person or the project? If this is the case, you should think about declining. The expectation of resentment is an indication that you’re approaching burnout.

Chunk your help into blocks of several five-minute favours

If you perform five tiny favours one day a week instead of one enormous favour every day, you will experience more impact and happiness.

What are the different types of Generosity Burnout?

According to Grant and Rebele, The Team Members will likely fall into one of four personality types on what they call the “Generosity Spectrum.” These are:


Those who are willing to take. This individual views every conversation as a chance to further their personal goals. They’ll act as though they’re entitled to your assistance and will feel little remorse for taking up your time.


Matcher is a term used to describe a group of matchers who takes and return. They’re less selfish than a taker, yet they’ll carefully guard their time. They view any additional labor they take on as a favour or a trade, and they want people they assist in returning their kindness.

Self-protective givers

This individual is giving but will weigh the cost and effects of their giving on both themselves and the person they are assisting. They’ll limit their generosity if they’re too preoccupied with high-priority activities or believe they’re being exploited.

Selfless givers

This is basically an unrestricted extra mile. A selfless provider is concerned about others but not so much for themselves. Their charity has no boundaries, leaving them open to takers. However, disregarding their personal needs might lead to tiredness, and as a result, they may become less productive and useful to the team or organisation.

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