How to Recognise When Your Employees Are Suffering from Burnout


How to Recognise When Your Employees Are Suffering from Burnout

Employee burnout has always been an issue, but since the pandemic, it has become much more prevalent. Employees have found themselves isolated and had the boundaries between work and home life blurred, leading to an increased workload and working long hours. Some organisations may interpret employee burnout as the problem of the individual and not the employer responsibility – but this is incorrect.

Employees suffering burnout points to an issue within the company. It could be a problem with staff numbers, a breakdown in communication, or a working culture that needs improving. Fortunately, there are steps employers can take to help employees who may be suffering from burnout. The first is to recognise what employee burnout might look like. 

What are The Signs of Burnout?

There are a few warning signs that an employee is suffering from burnout. These include:

Decrease in Productivity

When employees are burnt out, they’ll usually lose motivation for their work. They’ll also be more likely to make mistakes as they will care less about the quality of work they produce. This is especially true if they feel underappreciated or as if their work doesn’t matter.

A decrease in productivity due to burnout can occur in even the most enthusiastic employees. A survey by Deloitte found that whilst 87% of those surveyed said they were passionate about their work, 64% said they frequently felt stressed. The same survey found that 91% of those surveyed reported having an unmanageable amount of stress that negatively affects the quality of their work.

Disengaged from the Company and Job Role

Another sign of occupational burnout is when employees begin to show a detachment from the company. They may attend meetings and mandatory events, but they don’t engage. A lack of participation can be a clear sign that an employee is feeling burnt out, with little motivation or energy to be able to contribute.

Employees could also show signs of disengagement with their work. Whilst they may have once been eager to take on tasks or take part in new projects, they may now be much less inclined to volunteer. They might even stop returning phone calls and emails. This type of disengagement can leave burnt out employees feeling even more isolated and unmotivated.

Increase in Cynicism

Employees who are suffering from burnout will generally have a negative attitude towards their job, the company, and their colleagues. They might complain more about their role and be irritable towards co-workers and clients. They may also be more sensitive to feedback, becoming defensive and angry.

It can be very obvious when an employee is unhappy. These negative emotions can also spread throughout the team and be a detriment to employee morale.

Signs of Exhaustion

One of the common burnout symptoms is exhaustion and fatigue. If an employee is consistently talking about feeling tired or not getting enough sleep, it could be a sign they’re suffering from burnout.

Not only will exhaustion have a negative impact on the individual’s mental and physical health, but it will also affect their productivity and focus when working.

What Can Lead to Employee Burnout?

There are lots of different factors that can contribute to employees feeling burnt out. Individuals could experience just one of the below or a combination.

Extreme Workload

When employees have an unmanageable workload, they can start to experience burnout symptoms. When an individual has too much work, they’ll begin to work long hours. When they’re unable to take a break, they’ll become overstressed and exhausted, which will all take a toll on their wellbeing.

As well as working long hours due to an extreme workload, employees may be disinclined to take any time off, for fear of an even bigger workload when they return. Again, without having the opportunity for a break, people will become stressed and burnt out.

Unclear Expectations About the Role

Employees who don’t have a clear and defined role can be at risk of burnout. Without specified responsibilities, an employee may try to cover too much and feel the need to complete tasks that shouldn’t necessarily be under their remit.

Without proper communication and guidelines, individuals may believe it is expected that they take part in more projects than is necessary, and they may fear repercussions if they don’t take on those extra responsibilities.

Lack of Support

Many employees may feel overloaded with work at some point. But when an individual doesn’t have access to a support network at work, this can amplify feelings of burnout.

It could be that employees don’t feel able to speak to their manager about their workload or exhaustion, or that there isn’t a working environment that promotes support between colleagues.

How to Help Employees Avoid Burnout


It’s essential to create a working culture that encourages communication. Managers should routinely check-in with employees to ensure they’re coping with their workload and helping to rectify any problems. Individuals should feel comfortable in opening lines of communication with their management and other members of the team if they feel as though they’re struggling with their workload.

Each employee’s role and responsibilities should also be clearly communicated. Employees should know exactly what is expected of them and they feel able to ask questions for clarification whenever they need.

Set Clear Working Hours

Clearly defined working hours should be set for individuals. If your employees operate under flexible working hours, with different start and finish times, make sure that they’re only working for the appropriate hours per week. If employees find that they’re unable to complete the necessary tasks within that timeframe, work with them to find a solution. It might be that they require more training, or it might be that tasks should be redistributed around the team.

Communicate to the team that there is no expectation for people to respond to calls or emails outside of their working hours. Create a system so when people take time off, their work is covered by another member of the team, so no one has to return from a holiday with a large list of tasks that haven’t been completed whilst they were away.

Recognise and Reward

Celebrating employee achievements can help individuals to feel appreciated in the workplace. Some of the causes of burnout can be prevented when an employee knows their work is of value to the company.

Both small wins and big wins should be recognised and rewarded. Employees should know how their contributions are helping the company to achieve its goals to help motivate them to continue their work. You should encourage individuals to bring both their achievements and their colleagues’ achievements to the attention of management and celebrate publicly amongst the entire team. 

Create a Calm and Productive Working Environment

Employers’ duty of care for their employees should extend to creating a calm and productive working environment which can promote a healthy mind. Practical support should be available for employees to assist them with their work and enable them to keep organised and on top of their projects.

Whether it’s helping to keep a clutter-free workstation with desk organising units or helping to streamline working processes with the right filing equipment - the tools you provide can help to ease the stress employees might feel in an impractical and disorganised workplace.


Provide Mental Health Support

Employees who are suffering from burnout may require mental health support. Employers should do what they can to help with this depending on the resources that are available. This could involve providing access to counselling or by providing information to assist individuals in getting the professional help they need.

Leitz has a full range of office equipment and work from home essentials that can help employees to create a calm and productive working environment. Take a look at our products today.

See the below articles for more information on supporting employees:

Should Companies Consider a Shorter Working Week?

How Can Companies Promote Employee Health in the New Year?

10 Effective Ways to Ensure Remote Worker Happiness

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