Can burnout happen when doing Scrum sprints continuously?

GoRetro Team
August 22, 2022
Posted on
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What is Burnout in Scrum?

While Scrum can be an effective tool for improving efficiency and productivity, it’s relatively normal for projects to go on for long periods of time, which can cause complaints from team members. It's important to be aware of the potential for burnout when working in this continuous, high-pressure environment. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It can have serious consequences for both your personal and professional life, including decreased productivity, decreased job satisfaction, and even physical health problems.

How to manage Burnout in Scrum

The key to managing back-to-back Sprints is to find your team's sustainable pace. If you’re finding that your team is sustaining a good pace whilst staying productive, that's excellent - you've achieved the hyperproductivity that all Scrum teams strive for.

Alternatively, if you're finding that you overestimate how much work you can actually get done in a day you should use your agile retrospective as a place to reevaluate your work speed. The amount of productive time in a day that a team takes into account when doing their capacity planning for a sprint is referred to as a focus factor.

Henrik Kniberg has this to say:

“The ‘default’ focus factor I use for new teams is usually 70%, since that is where most of our other teams have ended up over time.”

So, can burnout happen when doing Scrum sprints continuously? The short answer is yes. When working in a high-stress environment, it is important to be mindful of your own well-being and take steps to prevent burnout. Here are some tips for avoiding burnout when working in Scrum sprints:

  1. Set realistic goals: It is important to set goals that are achievable within the given time frame of the sprint. If you consistently set unrealistic goals, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.
  2. Take breaks: Working long hours without breaks can contribute to burnout. Make sure to take regular breaks to rest and recharge.
  3. Stay healthy: It is important to take care of your physical and mental health when working in a high-stress environment. Eat well, exercise regularly, and make time for activities that help you relax and de-stress.
  4. Communicate with your team: If you are feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, it is important to communicate with your team. They may be able to help you redistribute tasks or provide support in other ways.
  5. Seek help if needed: If you are feeling overwhelmed and are unable to manage your stress on your own, don't be afraid to seek help. This could be in the form of therapy, medication, or other resources.
  6. Try ending the sprint on a Friday morning: Have your sprint review and retrospective in the morning and let the team work on something else the rest of the day to clear their heads. Pick up with Sprint planning on Monday.
  7. Introducing the notion of "lab days": These are entire days that the team is taken away from the project and they spend the day working on improving their own technical skills through research with each other and collaboration on specific technical topics. Most of the time they have absolutely nothing to do with the specific project and allow team members to think about lighter topics.


In conclusion, burnout can definitely happen when doing Scrum sprints continuously. It is important to be mindful of your own well-being and take steps to prevent burnout, such as setting realistic goals, taking breaks, staying healthy, communicating with your team, and seeking help if needed. By taking care of yourself, you can ensure that you are able to continue working at your best and delivering high-quality products.:

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