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Employee Burnout Signs: What to Watch For and How to Prevent It

Meet Dan.

Dan used to love his job. But he has been working extra hours over the last few months, and he’s starting to feel overwhelmed. And if he’s honest with himself, he’s also feeling quite defeated.

No matter how hard he tries to catch up on his workload every day, things pile up, and he never seems to be able to get on top of things. Worse, he feels like he is not getting any recognition from his boss.

The reality is that Dan is exhausted and stressed and is starting to resent his boss for it. He has even developed negative feelings toward the job he used to love.

These are typical signs of burnout.

So, to help you spot burnout early on, here are three signs your employees might be experiencing this common psychological syndrome.  We’ve also shared three strategies to prevent burnout in your company.

What Is Burnout and How Prevalent Is It?

Burnout is a state of extreme mental, emotional and physical exhaustion resulting from prolonged chronic stress.

And the truth is that Dan is far from the only one experiencing burnout. In fact, a recent study shows that 79% of Brits have gone through burnout, and another one reveals that almost half of UK employees are close to burnout!

Not only is burnout a societal issue because it can affect the physical and mental health of individuals, but it also significantly impacts companies’ productivity.

Burnout At Work: Causes

A recent survey revealed the top five reasons for burnout at work:

  • Employees feel like they’re being treated unfairly
  • Employees have an unmanageable workload
  • Their role isn’t clearly defined
  • They lack clear communication and ongoing support from their manager
  • They’re being subjected to unreasonable time pressure

Knowing what causes employee burnout is critical as it can allow you to devise efficient strategies to prevent this common syndrome from affecting your employees.

3 Employee Burnout Signs

Extreme Fatigue

This is one of the most common telltales of burnout.

Here are a few questions your employees should ask themselves to determine whether they’re experiencing extreme fatigue:

  • Are they so tired at the end of their workday that they can’t do anything after work?
  • Are they dragging themselves out of bed in the morning to go to work?
  • Do they find it difficult to concentrate?
  • Is their body constantly aching?
  • Are they easily irritated?
  • Do they feel completely drained?

Also, if they feel like they can’t replenish their energy levels despite sleeping a lot and aren’t able to relax no matter where they are, they might be experiencing burnout.

Cynicism and Detachment

Extreme fatigue at work can lead certain employees to become cynical and detached.

People who burn out often develop a negative outlook regarding their job. They don’t seem to enjoy their work anymore and are starting to isolate themselves from their colleagues. They’re no longer interested in mingling or exchanging with others and feel completely disconnected from the workplace. Some will also experience increased conflicts with others.

They can become forgetful and have trouble following through with tasks. Some also show up consistently late and leave work early.

Naturally, all of these factors impact their level of engagement and happiness in the workplace.

Lack Of Accomplishment

A burnt out employee typically feels like they can never catch up on their to-do list. They fail to see the use of their work and feel completely ineffective.

As a result, their focus shortens, and they might spend a lot of time doing personal things at work. Their productivity decreases, and they demonstrate poor work performance.

Other Common Symptoms Of Burnout

Other common employee burnout symptoms include the following:

  • Not eating properly
  • Not taking care of themselves
  • Having regular headaches
  • Being short-tempered or having difficulty controlling their emotions

Three Ways To Reduce Employee Stress and Burnout

Promote Work/Life Balance

A well-rested employee is a happier and, therefore, more productive employee!

If you instill a company culture where work/life balance is important, your employees won’t feel obligated to stay late to finish their work. Better yet, you should encourage them to leave at the end of their workday to spend quality time with their family or friends.

And because as a manager, you’re a critical contributing factor to the company culture, lead by example, and show your employees how it’s done.

In addition to encouraging your employees to clock off at the end of the day, there are plenty of initiatives you can implement to ensure your employees look after themselves and help them re-energise:

  • Offer meditation or yoga classes at work
  • Incorporate well-being challenges and corporate wellness programs into your employee retention strategy
  • Encourage employees to take all of their holidays
  • Implement a hybrid work model and flexible working arrangements

Monitor Workloads

Because one of the main reasons employees experience burnout in the first place is an unmanageable workload, it’s important, as a leader, to monitor your team’s workload. Sure, workloads can spike every now and then, but it shouldn’t be a recurring issue. If some of your employees are constantly under the pump, you might need to hire extra employees to help with the workload.

Also, make sure that project deadlines are reasonable. If you see that someone will struggle to meet a deadline unless they work extra hours at night and over the weekend, allocate some of their tasks to other less busy employees.

Enforce Quality Management Training

Managers and supervisors can play a critical role in sparking burnout and increasing turnover in a company. In fact, studies show that half of UK employees have quit a job because of bad management!

Training your management team is essential if you want to increase engagement and happiness in the workplace and boost your employee retention.

Managers should be trained to support employees and help them grow in their roles and develop in their careers. They should provide feedback in an appropriate way, set goals, regularly review them with each one of their team members and recognise and celebrate employees’ achievements.

Lack of communication and recognition are two major contributors to work-related burnout, so make sure to consider these factors when dealing with your employees and training your management team!


Want more tips like this? At Keen People, we’re passionate about helping companies like yours find the perfect candidates to help grow their team. And we know how critical retaining highly skilled employees is to your success once you’ve sourced the right person.

That’s why we regularly publish tips and tricks to guide managers and business owners through the employee hiring and retention process. Don’t hesitate to browse our ‘’resources’’ section for more information!



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