Employees Facing Burnout? Here’s How You Can Spot The Early Signs

employee burnout

Employee Burnout is one of the most misunderstood terms of the corporate era. Organizations often commit the mistake of reading employee burnout as synonymous with fatigue, disengagement, or laziness. Whereas, in the bigger picture, employee burnout is far beyond a personal problem. Employee burnout is more than just requiring a break while working or experiencing tiredness while working on a tough project. Employee burnout is a state of chronic work stress that leads to overall exhaustion, frustration, and a pessimist attitude that negatively impacts the personal and work life of the employee. 

employee burnout

So, If your employees feel like banging their heads against a wall while working, they are not alone. Unsurprisingly, employee burnout is at an all-time high currently. Ever since the pandemic surfaced, the world has made working remotely quite mainstream. It was expected to ease employee burnout. After all, who would not enjoy working in their pajamas all day and that too with flexible working hours? But what came as the outcome has been exactly the opposite. Employee burnout has been on a consistent rise since the start of the global pandemic. A survey was done by Glint in 2020 where it found a huge spike in employee burnout and an upward trend was spotted that started back in the middle of the year 2019. This trend was confirmed by many more similar studies.  Therefore, it has become even more important for you to prevent employee burnouts by spotting the early signs. This situation has resulted in making people management skills more renowned amongst the organizations now. 

If, by any chance, you are still taking employee burnout on a light note, recently, it was officially recognized as a medical condition by the World Health Organization (WHO). The impact of employee burnout can be disastrous for both the business and the employees. Employees experiencing burnout have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% less productivity, and 16% less profitability. 

What are the early signs of employee burnout?

When your employee is experiencing burnout, their ability to perform is compromised, and so is their self-confidence. Therefore, make sure to prevent employee burnout by spotting the early signs:

# 1 Disengagement

This is one of the most common signs amongst employees experiencing burnout. They end up losing interest in the things they used to previously enjoy doing. Employees losing interest in socializing with their colleagues and friends is an early sign of them getting disengaged by experiencing burnout. They may stop participating in employee engagement activities, avoid taking on new projects and stop answering work calls. Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. Employees gradually disconnect from their environment, leading to an increase in their disengagement. 

#2 Increased absenteeism

Employees facing burnout are more likely to take more sick leaves and are absent regularly as they undergo emotional, mental, and physical discomfort. Work overload and chronic stress can prevent them from getting out of their bed and home. At the same time, others may feel demotivated to deal with their work, co-workers, and management. Burnout employees may also come in late and leave early to avoid interacting with their supervisors and co-workers. 

#3 Isolation

Being a people manager, you should never turn your back on those employees that used to be cheerful but have suddenly become aloof and quiet. Such employees avoid others and don’t match their usual personalities. Of course, everyone has some bad days, but there’s a problem when this becomes a norm. Even if previously social employees show anger whenever someone tries to talk to them, it has the potential to be a sign of bigger concern. For this, you have to make sure who are the introverted employees in your organization. 

#4 Reduced productivity 

As burnout increases and the condition worsens, it leads to hindering the performance and productivity of the employee. This is an obvious sign as productivity will eventually suffer when the situation gets worse. The stress and their thoughts of getting overwhelmed might make them feel as if all their efforts will go in vain. Stress and these negative thoughts prevent the employees from concentrating on their work and day-to-day activities in the organization. They look as if they are always thinking something or the other and always seem to be low on motivation. 

#5 Exhaustion 

It is quite natural to feel fatigued when one is working for long durations or has to complete tasks in a last-minute hurry. However, it gets problematic when the employee frequently shows signs of mental, physical, and emotional stress. Such burnout employees seem to be forgetful, jaded, and lose their focus very easily and frequently. They may even appear to be tired and disinterested from the moment they arrive at work. Do you have employees who speak about struggling with sleep issues very often? Look out for them! 

How to prevent employee burnout?

Spotting the signs of employee burnout is one thing. Taking steps to prevent it is a crucial part. However, both of them are important to protect your employees from getting burnout. So, let us take a glance at a few effective steps that will help you in preventing employee burnout. 

  • Make sure to have clear and realistic expectations. 
  • Make sure employees have the resources they require.
  • Provide consistent mentoring. 
  • Check-in with people on how terms like working hours impact them and provide significant time for breaks. 
  • Recognize achievements! The worth and contribution of the employees towards the organizational goals need to be conveyed to them. 

The prevention of employee burnout will depend on their role and firm. Capacity planning and other such methods are generally used for preventing employee burnouts in fast-paced environments. Make sure that you develop methods and programs that will suit your workforce and industry, so you can effectively prevent employee burnout. 

As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc, it has become very crucial to take significant steps to make employees feel engaged and empowered. They are trying their best to rapidly adapt and sail through ever-changing circumstances. 

For more information, contact us today and learn more about people management skills and people management software.

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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