Spotting the Signs of Employee Burnout (and How to Help)

Employees are at higher risk of work-related burnout than ever before, thanks to the impact of multiple lockdowns and the Coronavirus pandemic. This means employers need to do more to recognise the signs and support employees who are suffering.

Burnout simply refers to the mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion which occurs in the workplace, often due to long-term but sometimes short-term stress. Employees are always reluctant to admit, or may not even be aware, they are experiencing burnout, so it is important that employers are vigilant and recognise the signs before it becomes a serious problem.

Common Signs of Employee Burnout

Every employee is different and you should know your team to recognise a change in their behaviour or attitude but four common red flags which often indicate burnout are:

  1. Negative attitude/mindset – an employee’s mindset may be on a downward spiral. This could be in relation to themselves, their work or even their colleagues but if it’s out of character, you should keep a closer eye on them.
  2. Illness or fatigue – if an employee is suddenly off sick more regularly or you find them complaining about tiredness or simply looking unusually tired then you may want to check in and see how they’re coping.
  3. Missed deadlines – employees who are always on time but start to miss deadlines should ring alarm bells and be a cause for concern.
  4. General performance decline – regular performance reviews and appraisals should give you a good understanding of your employee’s wellbeing and how they’re feeling at work.

Of course, the above issues can be linked to other concerns and personal issues but checking for signs of burnout is important to provide the right support for your employees.

Supporting Employees experiencing Burnout

Employees often won’t realise they’re suffering from burnout so as an employer you’ll need to help them to help themselves. Managers who recognise the above symptoms can then take action to help and support them. Your duty of care to your employees’ men you should check in and see if there is any workplace support you can provide. They may need referring for professional or medical support or may be comfortable taking some holiday or paid leave to reset themselves and get the rest they need. You may also find that the workloads provided are unmanageable and you need to reassess how work is shared out to ensure when employees return, the same doesn’t happen again.

If more than one employee is experiencing burnout then this could be a sign you need to look properly at your systems, processes, and delegation of work. You may even find you need more employees or larger teams to handle the work needed. Employees should feel able to speak to their colleagues and superiors to avoid reaching the point where they feel they cannot cope but this isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds. This makes it even more important for employers and managers to be aware of and mindful of the early signs of burnout.