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10 Warning Signs of Employee Burnout & How to Prevent It

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

When we’re feeling burned out, we all recognize it. To minimize staff burnout, however, managers must be able to recognize the warning symptoms of employee burnout early on.

There has been lingering speculation in the job market about whether or not workers who resigned during the height of The Great Resignation plan to return to their former companies now that analysts are warning of an impending recession.

A state of mental or physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged exposure to stress in the workplace is known as burnout. In its 2022 International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized workplace burnout as a legitimate medical disease.

Recent data showed that the U.S. economy shrank for a second straight quarter, but this hasn’t prompted workers to return to the job market.

Some business owners are already stressed out by the present economic climate, and the rising cost of living and consumer prices has only made things worse for them.

Other problems that business owners face include a lack of qualified workers, price increases, and bottlenecks in the supply chain. Raising salaries alone won’t be enough to attract and keep good employees.

In order to better assist their employees in handling the strains of their expanded responsibilities, companies should be on the lookout for indicators of employee burnout. Managers and HR should be on the lookout for indicators of burnout in their teams and take action to help those individuals.

Top Warning Signs of Employee Burnout

Lack of support on the job, extended periods of stress or dissatisfaction, a hostile work environment, and pressing deadlines are common causes of employee burnout. When a person experiences this state, they may feel emotionally and cognitively drained. The following are some red flags you should keep an eye out for in your staff members:

Early departure from work and increased absenteeism

Have you noticed that your workers frequently fail to show up for shifts? One of your finest workers may be experiencing employee burnout if they have been absent from work more frequently due to illness.

Exhaustion both mentally and physically leads to additional time away from the office. They may think that taking a day off will help them recharge, but as more and more deadlines build up, they often find themselves having to leave work early and miss even more days.

Related: How to Build Trust

Heightened pessimism

This one can be trickier to see if you’re the boss. When an employee is experiencing burnout, their peers may notice an increase in their cynicism. However, if you have a chat with the worker, you might be able to pick up on this.

If they take your suggestions or criticisms with disdain, it’s likely that they’re suffering from burnout and that you’re only seeing the surface of the problem. If you’re concerned that an employee could be having more trouble than they’re letting on, you should talk to their supervisors and other members of their team.

The staff has hit rock bottom in terms of energy levels.

Constant tiredness from work is normal, but when it’s shared by the majority of employees, that’s when bosses and HR departments need to take action.

Those who experience high amounts of stress at work are more likely to feel fatigued on a regular basis. Because of the difficulty of attracting and retaining qualified workers, many companies are raising the workloads and stress levels of their current employees, which has a negative impact on their health.

Additional Errors

Having trouble focusing or remembering details is a telltale indication of burnout. Look at the causes of your employees’ lack of focus if they are consistently missing deadlines or making careless mistakes.

Consider asking the impacted workers to a group gathering where they may freely discuss their work experience and explain the specifics of what they find stressful about their jobs while you listen and take notes. You’ll be able to direct them toward the resources they need to overcome burnout.

The key to a successful health program is assuring staff they will not be punished for discussing exhaustion. The negative impacts and errors will only worsen if employees are afraid to talk about burnout for fear of repercussions such as being written up or dismissed.

Personal health decline

A person’s susceptibility to colds and other infections increases when their energy levels are low. Be aware of how many sick days workers are requesting to determine who may be overworked. People who become sick from every new illness can have weakened immune systems from being overworked.

A company’s output and, eventually, its reputation, are at risk when workers repeatedly miss work due to illness.


Staff burnout is a leading cause of depression, which shows itself at work as a lack of self-assurance, withdrawal, and anxiety over meeting deadlines. Depression often manifests itself in a person through weariness.

Decreased enthusiasm for one’s work is a common symptom of depression caused by burnout. Those who are depressed may also experience changes in their eating habits, such as binge eating or loss of appetite.

Depression at work can have major consequences, so it’s important to take any warning signs very seriously and manage them carefully.

The key to preventing burnout-related depression is creating a supportive workplace where workers feel comfortable speaking up about their problems. Motivate staff to open up about their struggles so you can point them in the direction of appropriate resources.


However, if an employee is suddenly unable to get along with anyone, it may be a sign that they are under a great deal of pressure, rather than just a clash of personalities, which can cause tensions in the workplace. Feeling helpless, unimportant, or less productive than one used to be can also lead to irritability.

Consider whether taking action to address employee burnout can assist to resolve the underlying cause of rage, in addition to conventional workplace disciplinary procedures for employees who demonstrate extreme anger or even violence toward coworkers. Irritability may be detrimental to relationships and professions if not addressed.

Put your health first.

Wellness programs for workers should not be elaborate or prohibitively expensive. Making sure that people have the means to maintain their own health might be a sufficient goal on its own. It could be time to start a wellness program if you don’t already have one.

Making sure there is adequate light in the room, promoting outside breaks, and making sure staff are using up their vacation days each year are all simple ways to encourage healthy mental health.

Alternatively, you can encourage healthy lifestyle choices by keeping track of your exercise routine as a group or participating in monthly fitness challenges. Reduced stress and increased happiness in the workplace can help prevent burnout.

Having a fragile ego and taking criticism personally

It’s not always easy to take in criticism. Those suffering from burnout are more inclined to take criticism personally and become offended, especially if the criticism is about a seemingly insignificant matter.

Employees often exaggerate or overreact to criticism, making seemingly little issues into major ones. They may feel like they can’t do anything right, get angry, and take the critique as a personal attack.

The inability to focus

When anxiety sets in, it can be difficult to focus. Those suffering from burnout will have a very difficult time focusing their attention.

Workers like this may “goof off” more than usual on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and they may appear to be bouncing about from task to task without actually getting anything done. As burnout worsens, people lose interest in their work and become less focused, which leads to missed deadlines and a general inability to get much done.

Reduced output

Declining productivity is one of the most obvious signs of employee burnout. They won’t be able to complete tasks on time, and the business will suffer as a result. However, burnout has consequences not only for the business but also for the individual.

Because of the tiredness, they experience at work, they will also be less productive in their personal lives. When the employee’s emotional distancing from the organization becomes too great, the cycle continues and the individual looks for a new job to try to re-energize. However, the root of the problem is burnout itself, which is treatable.

How to Keep Your Workers from Getting Burn Out

If you’re serious about your career and your organization, you’ll do everything you can to avoid burnout. It will not only make your staff more content and healthier, but it will also increase productivity, leading to greater financial success for your business.

Many people in your organization, perhaps even the majority, may be experiencing burnout. Employee burnout is at an all-time high due to the stresses of the economy and living after a pandemic. Some measures to take against worker exhaustion are as follows.

Commune with your staff.

Managers, HR professionals, and even the CEO of a company may only learn the truth about their staff by having an open dialogue with them. They can describe how they feel, even if they don’t want to or can’t admit that they are experiencing burnout.

Perhaps there isn’t much positivity at work. Perhaps they are having trouble meeting the deadlines because they are too stringent. If that’s the case, it might beneficial to do reviews with staff members on a regular basis. Get to know them, have open communication, and encourage them to share any concerns they may have about the workplace.

Put an end to micromanaging.

While it may give the impression that more work is getting done if you micromanage your staff, doing so is actually quite stressful for everyone involved. You have to have faith in the person you hire for the job. You shouldn’t second-guess their every move or peer over their shoulder. Allow them the freedom to accomplish their jobs by putting your faith in them.

Employer incentives are a must.

It’s been found that a lack of appreciation is a major contributor to burnout in the workplace. They may feel unappreciated and overwhelmed as a result of their belief that their efforts are going unnoticed. You might think it’s ridiculous to reward your staff, or you might believe they shouldn’t require rewards for doing their jobs.

However, the most important aspect of rewarding your staff is demonstrating that you recognize and value their efforts on the job. Rewarding the crew is as easy as buying them lunch or giving them a few free t-shirts.

Maintain a pleasant workplace

An enjoyable and productive workplace depends on several factors. People will burn out much faster if these are lacking. Making ensuring there are enough individuals to do the job is the first order of business.

People working for you will be overworked and stressed out if you don’t have enough of them. Burnout among workers will increase as a result of this. In order to reduce the burden on any one worker, it is important to hire enough workers to ensure a fair distribution of work.

The next step in making the office a pleasant place to be is making sure everyone gets along. There will always be people with different opinions and beliefs, but if an employee is consistently nasty, dismissive, or unable to work well with others, it may be time to rethink your hiring practices.

Last but not least, make sure you give your staff enough time to do their jobs. They need to be given a reasonable amount of time to complete their assignments; otherwise, they may become overwhelmed by the pressure.

The prevalence of employee burnout is a growing problem.

You should make sure your organization is proactive in preventing employee burnout, as it is on the rise. If you notice that your workers are showing indications of burnout, you need to take action immediately.

If you don’t, your business will lose productivity, income, and employees. Collaborate with your human resources department and upper management to devise effective measures to reduce the likelihood of employee burnout.

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