How to Spot Employee Burnout

According to a Deloitte survey, 77% of employees have experienced burnout at their present job, and 69% believe their bosses are not doing enough to prevent or treat burnout. 

Several factors can cause this productivity killer: too much work, boredom working on the same tasks, and no longer feeling challenged. Whatever the reason, your employee is exhausted and not operating at their peak. 

Work-life balance, excessive work expectations, problematic workplace dynamics, an emotionally draining career, or simply feeling out of control can all contribute to the condition. The recent COVID-19 outbreak only elevated the stress—resulting in 40% of workers saying they have experienced burnout during the pandemic. 

Employee burnout is not something that happens overnight. It develops gradually, giving employees and employers ample opportunity to spot and respond to warning indicators. Here are seven telltale signs of employees who are burning out.

Telltale Signs of Employee Burnout

1. Decreased Productivity 

When a formerly trustworthy employee suddenly becomes unreliable and lax, it is easy to assume that an employee is just getting lazy. On the flip side, the problem could be more severe. Decreased efficiency, increased complaints, and missed deadlines are signs that the employee is burning out or no longer enjoying the work.  

If the situation worsens, productivity and performance will suffer. Stressed employees will find it difficult to concentrate on their work. They will feel overwhelmed, not knowing where work starts or ends—yet doused with guilt and uncertainty, feeling like their efforts are pointless. 


2. Poor Performance 

If your staff regularly make mistakes, forget meetings, or miss deadlines, you should look into why their attention is failing. Remember that workplace burnout can affect even the most skilled, enthusiastic, and dedicated employees. They lose motivation to give their utmost effort to the task at hand once they lose purpose at work. Even more so if they are micromanaged or report to a toxic boss.  

Rising absenteeism and a reckless attitude could indicate that someone no longer cares about their job. This is an obvious indication of an underlying issue like burnout. Turning a blind eye is the worst thing a manager can do as the gravity of the situation may worsen. 


3. Increased Cynicism 

Occasional complaints are common. However, when someone formerly a source of encouragement for the rest of the team becomes continuously negative, they most likely suffer from burnout. Emotions—both positive and negative—are contagious and will spread throughout the firm.  

When employees are unhappy, their enthusiasm for work will have waned. There will be cynicism and hostility toward clients, colleagues, and even bosses. If left unchecked, the negativity could erode employee morale, damage customer experience, destroy workplace cultures, and even harm a company’s reputation. Furthermore, if your employees do not feel supported, word of your company’s shortcomings could spread quickly. 


4. Higher Disengagement 

An employee who appears indifferent and unenthusiastic compared to how they typically were could indicate disengagement, which is a sign of burnout. They lose excitement for their jobs as they become more disconnected from their surroundings. The isolation gets even more tricky with remote working, as you may not realise they are retreating from relationships.  

Burnout can occasionally resemble depression symptoms, making people feel alienated. That means they will be stuck to desks, refusing to connect with coworkers, or lacking participation and contribution during meetings and activities —as though they are not mentally present. 


5. Irritable and Sensitive to Feedback 

Tensions in the workplace can be the consequence of personality clashes. But a burned-out person may feel ineffective, unimportant, or less efficient than they were. Thus, they begin to take criticism more personally—displaying increased defensiveness. Suppose an employee suddenly displays aggression towards their colleagues; it could signify that they are under a great deal of stress. If not addressed promptly, it could ruin relationships and professions. 


6. Visible Exhaustion 

Are employees reporting feeling drained when they first wake up in the morning? Or are they complaining about being tired all the time? Workplace stress can make it difficult for employees to unwind at the end of the day or sleep soundly, resulting in a continual state of exhaustion.  

When someone’s energy reserve is drained, their body’s immune system deteriorates—escalating physical issues such as headaches, stomach trouble, body aches, and increased susceptibility to flu and colds. Panic attacks, chest pains, an elevated heart rate, nausea, and eating disorders are also notable indicators of exhaustion and stress. 

Keep track of how many sick days employees take as overworked employees are more likely to call in sick. An increase in time-off requests could indicate that someone is burnt out and unable to work. Some people will consider taking the day off to lift their mood. Others use their vacation time to avoid stressful projects, managers, and employees. 


7. Loss of Confidence 

When someone suddenly loses faith in their skills and capabilities, it could indicate burnout. This could take the form of an employee who is more hesitant than usual, convinced that their work will always be rejected. These unhelpful doubts will trickle into their personal lives as well—causing deteriorating confidence, leading them to believe they are incompetent, disliked, or unwanted. 


Are your employees showing signs of burnout? Focus on their well-being by outsourcing your HR administration.

Are your employees showing signs of burnout?  

It is important to keep an eye on your employees’ well-being to promote a commendable workplace culture. Providing the right support through early detection may help the employees return to their optimum productivity and engagement levels.  

Outsource your HR administration matters to us so you can free up valuable time to attend to the health of your company’s most important asset—your employees.  

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