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The Warning Signs of Burnout at Work and How to Avoid Them

Learn what the warning signs of burnout are and how to prevent burnout in the workplace.

Learn what the warning signs of burnout are and how to prevent burnout in the workplace.

Workplace burnout is a significant issue for a variety of industries around the globe. Approximately 80% of all workers in the workforce feel stress from their job at one point or another. With the rise of competitiveness and the demand for productivity, understanding how to reduce burnout in the workplace is essential for the mental health and well being of employees at any level.

Workplace burnout can manifest in many different ways. For some, it may impact their mental health. For others, their physical health may begin to suffer. From headaches, nausea, anxiety, and distress to panic attacks and even more serious ailments, workplace burnout is no laughing matter.

Because burnout is common among all age groups and demographics, knowing the warning signs of burnout can help with burnout prevention. Identifying signs of potential burnout can also help in reducing chronic workplace stress with effective company communication and a proper workplace atmosphere. Keep reading to learn more about how to avoid burnout at work.

Workplace or job burnout happens when someone feels tired, stressed, and overwhelmed from job stress. It's a feeling that can impact employees both mentally and physically. 

Burnout can happen when someone has too much work, not enough support, or feels like they can't keep up with everything. According to the World Health Organization, burnout at work can cause workers to lose interest in their jobs, feel moody or irritable, and affect their ability to succeed. 

Burnout can happen to anyone, but recognizing the signs and addressing them is important for overall well-being.

What causes employee burnout

Employee burnout can occur at any time, even if an employee appears to be excited about their work externally. From internal workplace issues to personal problems, employee burnout can stem from a variety of real-life anxieties and stressors, such as:

  • Pressure: Feeling increased pressure in the workplace or even socially and at home can cause employees to feel less motivated and more burnt out.
  • Work overload: An increase in responsibility at work can also lead to employee burnout, especially if they are not properly prepared to take on and manage new tasks in their current role.
  • Lack of support: If an employee is experiencing a lack of support from his or her team, boss, or even those at home, they are more likely to feel a strain on their mental health.
  • Poor work-life balance: Poor time management or the inability to balance one's work and personal life can significantly decrease overall happiness while increasing stress.
  • External stress: Life can be stressful at times. Preventing burnout in the workplace means also knowing how to recognize potential external stressors and triggers that bring on stress. Stress involving hobbies, relationships, plans, or even bills can cause workplace burnout in even the most dedicated and ambitious employees.
  • Unfair treatment: Feeling treated unfairly in the workplace can cause employees to disconnect from their workload, preventing them from committing themselves fully to the job. Disagreements or mistreatment from coworkers and team members should always be taken seriously and addressed immediately.

Identifying warning signs of workplace burnout is essential to minimize the risk of experiencing burnout yourself as an employer or an employee. Knowing how to spot potential signs of burnout can help you to address them as quickly as possible, potentially preventing workplace burnout altogether.

Low productivity

A noticeable drop in employee engagement and productivity might be a sign that they are experiencing burnout. If an employee typically meets all of their goals but their production has slowed consistently over time, they may be struggling to manage stress and burnout on their own.

Physical and emotional exhaustion

Noticing both physical and emotional exhaustion in an employee is another indicator that they are feeling burnt out. When someone overworks themselves or is unable to rest their mind and body for an extended period of time, they are much more likely to experience serious emotional and physical exhaustion.

Negative feelings

If your employee has been increasingly expressing discontent or negative feelings about their position or your company, they may be in need of additional manager support.

When an employee, who is typically optimistic, motivated, and supportive, begins expressing negative emotions in the workplace, they may be reaching out for camaraderie and emotional guidance. Speak privately to an employee who expresses negative feelings in the workplace to avoid embarrassing or humiliating them in front of their peers.

Easily upset

Chronic workplace stress can also lead to individuals feeling easily triggered or upset by even mundane conversations or actions. The more stressed out someone becomes, the more likely they are to become overwhelmed with minor stressors that could have otherwise been prevented.

Decreased enjoyment

A loss of enjoyment in one's work can also be a symptom of workplace burnout. This is especially true in those who otherwise find joy and satisfaction in their roles. Employee burnout can cause individuals to feel depressed, which can lead to an overall loss of any fulfillment they typically feel while working.

Physical symptoms

While job burnout is often associated with extreme fatigue, it's common for those suffering from it to have physical complaints. A few ways in which workplace burnout can impact one's physical health include:

  • Headaches: Increased headaches or migraines are not uncommon in those stressed out from work.
  • Back pain: Back pain and increased joint pain may also occur in individuals who are feeling stressed.
  • Anxiety: An increase in anxiety and/or panic attacks is not uncommon in those who are burnt out in the workplace.
  • Nausea/digestive issues: Those who experience anxiety and mental fatigue from work-related stress are also more likely to experience nausea and/or other digestive issues.
  • Chronic fatigue: It is not uncommon for employees who are overworked to begin showing signs of chronic fatigue, especially if they are unable to rest during their time off.

Preventing workplace burnout is not as simple as planning an outing or providing your employees with a day off. In order to successfully mitigate burnout in the workplace, both environmental and cultural shifts must take place.

There are a few ways to overcome burnout in the workplace. They include:

Promote a positive work environment

Both team and manager support goes a long way for employees in the workplace, especially those who are at risk of experiencing burnout. A positive environment is much more welcoming and supportive than an environment that is cold, judgmental, and uncaring. Encourage a positive work environment between team members, regardless of their position and rank.

Be sure to stress the importance of being kind in the workplace among all team members. Host regular meetings to promote positivity in the workplace. Address negativity and gossip in private to prevent matters from spreading throughout the workplace. Highlight positive actions and interactions rather than focusing on the negative.

Encourage open communication

Open communication is key to long-term success in any market or industry, regardless of the size of your business. Openly encourage team collaboration and communication among all teams, managers, and team leaders.

Offer positive incentives for those who are the most willing to help their fellow peers and co-workers. Share praise in the workplace when employees take it upon themselves to help each other without prompts or requests. Open communication can go a long way in ensuring your employees remain satisfied in their positions without feeling burnt out and overwhelmed.

Provide opportunities for professional growth

Providing opportunities to your employees for professional growth can help them from feeling stagnant or stuck in their positions. Implementing tools such as a sales CRM can also help your employees when it comes to streamlining their daily tasks and overall workflow.

Using tools such as a sales CRM or another workflow solution can also decrease the amount of stress employees encounter on a daily basis.

Improve work-life balance

One of the best ways to prevent employee burnout in the workplace is to help employees improve their own work-life balance. Allowing employees more time off, paid time off, as well as flexible schedules is one way to provide a more balanced work-life schedule. For some employees, allowing them to work remotely may help them through a period of burnout, especially if they are struggling to overcome external stressors in their personal life.

Teaching employees how to prioritize their tasks at work and still find fulfillment outside of their careers is essential as a manager or leader. Assisting your employees with the right tools and guidance can significantly increase their quality of life and their work-life balance over time.

Encourage employees to prioritize self-care

As a manager, leader, or entrepreneur, encouraging employees to prioritize self-care is also extremely important. Learning how to excel at time and energy management can help your employees to feel much more assertive and in control of their own lives.

Teach employees about the importance of self-care and seeking fulfillment outside of work to help reduce burnout while allowing them to focus on their own well being. Encourage employees to practice self-care whenever they are at home or have time off in addition to providing free time during their workdays.

Offering a small window of time for employees to relax, unwind, work on personal projects, or practice self-care can be just what they need after a busy morning or afternoon. Remain flexible when it comes to communicating about self-care with your employees to ensure a workplace culture that works for all.

Recognizing burnout in your team

To address burnout, you need to know what early warning signs to look for. While you may know the signs, you might not know how these signs manifest in different individuals.

Here are a few signs of burnout in coworkers or employees: 

  • Decreased performance: A decline in the quality or quantity of work a team member produces could be a sign of burnout. Missed deadlines, errors, or a lack of attention to detail may indicate that they are struggling to keep up with their workload. 
  • Increased absenteeism: Pay attention to any increase in absences or requests for time off. Chronic absenteeism or frequent sick days could be a red flag for burnout, as workers may be physically or emotionally exhausted and need a break. 
  • Changes in behavior: Be alert to changes in behavior, mood, or attitude. Burnout can manifest in various ways, such as irritability, mood swings, withdrawal from social interactions, or a negative outlook on work-related matters. 

Once you've identified a burned-out employee, it's important to provide them with a supportive environment to help them recover. Let them know that it's okay to talk about burnout and that you're there to support them.

Addressing burnout: Strategies for employers

Burnout is fairly common in the workplace. As an employer, it's crucial to recognize the signs of burnout and implement strategies to support your team members.

Here are a few strategies you can use to address job burnout and empower employees: 

Implement stress management programs

These programs may include workshops, seminars, or online resources focused on mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and time management. Giving employees access to stress management resources empowers them to navigate work-related stressors better and prevent burnout. 

Provide flexibility in work arrangements

Offering remote work options, flexible working hours, or compressed workweeks can help alleviate the pressures contributing to burnout. Flexibility allows staff to better balance all their responsibilities, reducing stress and promoting work-life balance. 

Offer employee assistance programs (EAPs)

EAPs provide confidential services to employees dealing with personal or work-related challenges, including burnout and mental health issues. By providing these programs, employers can address burnout and other challenges before they escalate. 

Conduct regular check-ins and performance evaluations

Regular check-ins and performance evaluations provide managers with opportunities to assess employee well-being, identify signs of burnout, and offer support and assistance to combat burnout.

Check-ins allow managers to maintain open lines of communication with employees, discuss workload and job demands, and address any concerns or challenges.

Encourage team bonding activities and social support networks

Team bonding activities, such as team-building exercises, group outings, or social events, provide opportunities for employees to interact and build relationships outside of work tasks.

Employers can help employees feel more empowered and resilient in the face of workplace challenges by promoting a sense of belonging and camaraderie. 

Addressing burnout: Strategies for employees

If you experience burnout as an employee, there are several steps you can take to combat it before it begins affecting your mental and physical health or job performance. Here are a few strategies you can try to help address burnout and stay engaged in your work: 

Set boundaries and prioritize tasks

Establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life, such as setting specific work hours and unplugging from work-related activities during non-work hours, is essential.

Additionally, prioritizing tasks based on urgency can help you focus on high-impact activities and avoid feeling overwhelmed by what seems like an endless to-do list. 

Seek support from colleagues and supervisors

Communicate openly with colleagues and supervisors about workload concerns, deadlines, and challenges. Collaborating with team members and getting help when needed can distribute the workload more evenly and prevent feelings of isolation.

Engage in self-care practices

Regular exercise can help reduce stress levels and improve mood, while mindfulness activities like meditation can promote relaxation and mental clarity. Additionally, pursuing hobbies and interests outside of work can give you a break and help you recharge and rejuvenate. 

Seek professional help if needed

If you can't seem to get rid of burnout despite efforts to address it, seeking professional help may be necessary. 

Therapy, counseling, or coaching can provide additional support and guidance in managing stress and burnout. A trained professional can help employees identify the underlying causes of burnout, develop coping strategies, and explore healthy ways to manage stress and improve well-being.

Prioritize employee well-being for a healthy work environment

In the workplace, prioritizing well-being and mental health can prevent employee burnout, even in highly competitive and fast-paced environments.

With the use of various tools available with Mailchimp, you can learn how to manage stress in the workplace by streamlining the workflow of all of your employees.

With Mailchimp, you can ensure that your employees are well-equipped with the proper tools to achieve workplace goals while simultaneously maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

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