Employee Burnout: Recognizing the Signs and Finding Solutions

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In the past year there have been many discussions surrounding workplace health and safety. One concern that is becoming increasingly more important is mental health in the workplace, more specifically: employee burnout. You’ve seen it before and have likely misinterpreted it as a talent management issue or a personal problem. After all, a company as great as yours couldn’t possibly have “employee burnout”…. Right?

Well actually, that is far from the truth. Employees can feel have burnout for a number of reasons, regardless of how great a company or workplace may be. Failure to recognize these signs can result in serious problems for the company and the employee. Recognizing these signs early and having proper solutions in place is one of the many keys to retaining productive and happy employees.

Recognizing the Signs 

First it’s important to recognize the signs of employee burn out, which can affect an employee’s physical, mental and emotional state. Are you noticing a usually stellar employee is taking more sick days, not finishing tasks on time, or seeming to be always tired? These are signs of employee burnout.
There are three types of employee burnout: 

  1. Frenetic – feeling overloaded with work’s demands or commitments
  2. Under-challenged – feeling a lack of development; and
  3. Worn-out – wanting to neglect or give up one’s tasks or responsibilities

All three types of employee burnout can display a multitude of changes and symptoms.
Here are the 5 of the most prominent signs you should keep an eye out for: 

  • Decreased productivity and quality of work
  • Uncharacteristic disengagement (complaining, less excitement, cynicism)
  • Poor attendance or taking more sick days
  • Lack of teamwork and cooperation
  • Irritability and defensive body language

Common phrases you may hear from a employee experiencing burnout are: 

  • “I just don’t feel like myself lately.”
  • “Once I get through this busy season then I can slow down.”
  • “I’m so tired all the time – I’m sure I just need a vacation.”
  • “I can never get ahead on my work!”
  • “I can’t wait to leave this place.”


What You Can Do To Help

So now you know the signs of employee burnout but how do you fix the problem? Once you notice an employee or your team is experiencing burnout then it’s time to act immediately. Burnout can become all-consuming in one’s professional and personal life. When steps aren’t taken it can lead to serious complications in regards to mental and physical health.

  1. Dive Deeper
    If you suspect you have a burnt-out individual or a burnt-out team, your first step is to identify the problem. Begin by having a heart-to-heart conversation. And, remember, your workers may be reluctant to open up. Ask questions like, “If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?” These types of inquiries will allow you to gain insights without putting people on the spot.
  2. Discuss Possible Solutions
    Once you have identified what’s wrong, you can start to create an action plan. Solutions may vary widely depending on the individuals and the issues at hand. For example, if an employee is under-challenged, you may decide to give them a stretch project or to assign them a mentor to accelerate their career development. However, if this year’s busy season is overwhelming your entire team, you may want to consider bringing in temporary help to make everyone’s workload more manageable.
  3. Put a Long-Term Plan in Place
    Just as burnout creeps in over time, it takes time to go away. Therefore, quick fixes, such as giving everyone a day off, are unrealistic and ineffective. Also, in some cases, fixing an issue immediately is not feasible. For example, you won’t be able to hire five new permanent staff members before next Friday. However, by acknowledging the problem and developing a long-term solution, you can revitalize your team in the short term. Your employees will recognize you have their backs and you are working together to make things better.

Preventing Employee Burnout

All employees are always at a risk of burnout which is why it’s important to prioritize people over productivity. After all, you can’t have a productive workplace with a burnt out team. While it can’t be prevented entirely, there are things you and your employees can do to prevent it from happening often.

  • Get personal with your employees through one-on-one meetings and start recognizing their stress levels. A simple question of “How is your work day going today?” can go a long way.
  • Establish boundaries and realistic expectations because fast paced environments often demand or take all of what an employee can give
  • Focus on mental health in the workplace and be open in your discussion of it’s importance
  • Create a comfortable space for employees to take a mental break to unwind and disconnect for 5 minutes
  • Show value to your employees and the contributions they’ve made to company goals
  • Have the resources your employees need to prevent overload like temporary help

Have a big project coming up or entering your busy season? Having temporary employees in place to assist with the extra workload will increase productivity all while preventing employee burnout! Don’t push your employees to their breaking point, let Aventure Staffing build you a stronger workforce.


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