How to Tell if Your Employees Are Burnt Out

How to Tell if Your Employees Are Burnt Out

Knowing how to recognize different employee burnout signs is important for the health of a business and those who work there. A number of things contribute to employee burnout, including tight deadlines on large projects, staffing shortages, and ineffective management. Burnout does not suddenly appear overnight. Most employee burnout symptoms build over time and can negatively affect all aspects of a business if they are not properly addressed. 

Concerned business professionals analyzing complex data with charts and a laptop.

Burnout is Not Uncommon

Managing a full team of employees is difficult enough without them feeling work-related stress. Changes to the workplace such as the pandemic, the scramble to implement work from home setups, and the gradual move back to the office have also caused stress and employee burnout. Burnout is not solely caused by the workplace; other factors such as personality and lifestyle can add to the strain. 

Stress does not necessarily lead to burnout. In some scenarios, an employee may simply be having an off day or feeling anxious about an upcoming performance review or project. Employee burnout is not uncommon. As many as 75% of workers reported experiencing burnout while 40% reported burnout directly related to the pandemic. 

Signs your employee is burnt out may echo symptoms of stress, including poor work performance, irritability, and disengagement from others. Spotting and acknowledging the signs that your employee is burnt out is important to prevent any collateral damage to the workplace and fellow employees. 

Employee burnout signs may not always be obvious or easy to recognize, but doing so is vital to the productivity and health of your workplace and team. 

What Does Work Burnout Look Like?

Signs of burnout are not always obvious, whether they are working from home, or in the office. In a number of cases, employees may not feel comfortable enough to tell management when they are feeling burnt out, due to not wanting to appear bad at their jobs. Read on to learn more about what employee burnout looks like. 

The Top 5 Employee Burnout Signs 

  1. Isolation from others: Not to be confused with an employee who is having a bad day or is not feeling well, isolation is prolonged and lasts longer than a day or two. Along with physical distance, an employee may emotionally withdraw from others and become easily agitated. An isolating employee may be hard to approach and hostile to others. 
  2. Increased absences from work: Everyone needs to take a sick day or personal day now and then, but employees who are overly stressed and feeling burnt out may seek more time away. This is a form of isolation and may be a coping method to avoid what is causing their burnout such as difficult projects or coworkers. 
  3. Exhaustion: This includes physical, mental, and emotional fatigue and may present as higher sensitivity to feedback on performance. Exhausted employees may voice these feelings or talk about their lack of sleep at night. 
  4. Disengagement and decrease in productivity: As stress increases, productivity decreases. Elevated stress levels associated with burnout make it difficult to complete projects with precision and timeliness. 
  5. Physical symptoms of stress: These include nausea, chest pains, increased heart rate, headaches, weight gain or loss, and panic attacks. 

Management that is worried about burnout should monitor their employees for these burnout symptoms. 

Burnout by Generation

Work burnout can strike anyone at any professional level, age, or industry. Millennials are an often-targeted age group when discussing work burnout. Employees experiencing so-called millennial burnout are facing different pressures and stresses than the generations before them, but are likely to show the same burnout symptoms as anyone else. 

How HR Can Combat Burnout

Passion for a career is not always enough to keep employees from feeling burnt out. According to Deloitte’s 2021 survey, workers attributed their burnout to unrealistic deadlines, long hours, and little to no recognition from their supervisors. 

Both management and HR leaders have a responsibility to their employees to alleviate the causes of burnout and lower stress. Some ways that HR can reduce burnout include encouraging employees to use their PTO, take breaks, and recognize employees for their efforts and achievements. 

HR bears the bulk of responsibility for preventing and alleviating burnout for employees; this responsibility does not leave HR professionals immune to burnout. Working in HR is difficult, requiring individuals to address the needs of employees while answering to and representing the organization. Additionally, HR burnout was exacerbated by the pandemic and staff shortages. 

Additional Resources

Any employee can experience burnout. It is important for management and HR to recognize the signs and take steps to prevent its escalation. 

Along with communication and recognizing employee burnout signs, workplace leaders have the ability to combat burnout in a variety of ways.

KnowledgeCity provides many insightful and accessible online courses addressing burnout and other employee wellness topics. Schedule a free demo today to start creating a more supportive and positive work environment.

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