Employee Burnout: Do You Know the Signs?

The American workforce is in the throes of a burnout crisis, especially in high stakes and inherently stressful industries like healthcare and tech – and it’s not hard to see why. In the era of endless “hustle” and 24/7 connectivity, “clocking out” of work at the end of the day has become something of a pipe dream for many employees across industries and organizations. But according to statistics, not only is employee burnout a growing health issue, it also contributes to billions of dollars in lost productivity every year.

The Signs and Symptoms of Employee Burnout

If you think that burnout is a personal problem that employees should manage and handle on their own time, think again. According to the Harvard Business Review, at its root, employee burnout is a problem with a company’s culture, not its employees. Some of the management and organizational practices that can create an environment ripe for employee burnout include:

  • Chronic stress
  • Job insecurity
  • Unmanageable workloads
  • Excessive red tape and processes like unproductive meetings
  • Perceptions of unfair treatment
  • Lack of opportunities for advancement and growth
  • No room for creativity/initiative
  • Dysfunctional/hostile work environment
the myth of work-life balance

While it may not be possible to change a company’s entire culture and processes overnight, recognizing the signs of employee burnout is the first step towards managing the problem before it spirals out of control.

The most common signs of employee burnout include:

  • Loss of focus
  • Lack of engagement
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Drops in output/productivity
  • Changes in attitude/professional demeanor
  • Stress-related health issues like headaches, insomnia, and lethargy

The important thing to remember is that employees don’t burn out overnight. While a certain degree of stress is normal and to be expected in every workplace, burnout is more of a slow drip that develops over time due to conditions that are typically beyond an individual employee’s control.

RELATED: Workplace Flexibility: Work-Life Fit

What You Can Do to Support Your Team and Help Minimize the Risk of Employee Burnout

Generally speaking, an overworked and undervalued employee is a good candidate for burnout. Adopting positive leadership and management styles that encourage employees to ask for and receive support – ideally before they hit burnout – is a basic preventive measure. Every organization obviously has different needs and resources available to manage their workforce, but there are a number of actionable steps that companies of all sizes can take to ensure that their employees are being taken care of and supported:

  • Clearly define job expectations and responsibilities
  • Keep the lines of communication open
  • Encourage employees to use their vacation days and take time off to recharge
  • Discourage workaholism
  • Offer incentives and support for wellness and preventive health as much as possible
  • Offer fair compensation
  • Solicit feedback from your team
  • Make your employees feel valued and appreciated

In many cases, burnout problems boil down to cultural and leadership issues. These can be addressed with the right training from companies like A Better Leader and shifts in attitude and perspective on an organizational level.

Jennifer Orechwa

In over 25 years of helping companies connect with their employees, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a UnionProof culture. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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