The Warning Signs of Employee Burnout & How to Prevent It

The Warning Signs of Employee Burnout & How to Prevent It
The Warning Signs of Employee Burnout & How to Prevent It

Employees can get burned out in a business of any size, but the bigger the business is, the harder it can be to spot the signs of burnout early on. The problem is that burnout can lead to serious mental health issues for your employees, and it can begin to harm the productivity of your business. Therefore, it is crucial that for a business to thrive, it needs to be a priority for a business owner to keep an eye out for signs of burnout in their workforce. In this article, we will look at the signs of employee burnout and how to prevent it.

What are the warning signs of employee burnout?

There are several warning signs that a manager or business owner can look for in their employees.

Reduced Productivity and Performance

When an employee is burned out, they might have trouble staying focused on their tasks and completing them on time. Their work quality may also go down a little. Burned out employees often disengage from their work, which is why their productivity and work quality can drop. Keep an eye on the output of your team to see if the quality of any of your employees begins to go down because there is a good chance that burnout is the cause of it.

Increased Absenteeism

Burnout can make an employee feel physically or emotionally drained, which can make it harder for them to motivate themselves to come to work. They might begin to have an increase in their attendance at work. For some employees, this is because they might hope that taking the day off might improve their mood and make them feel a little better. Others might choose to call in sick because they want to avoid a project, manager, or coworker that causes them a lot of stress. You also might have some employees that will show up late or duck out early because they are hoping to avoid interacting with coworkers or managers.


If your employees are often complaining about fatigue or exhaustion, they might be getting burned out. Stress can make it hard for someone to get a good night’s sleep, so if your employees are showing signs of not getting enough sleep, that could be a warning sign that they are getting burned out. Extreme fatigue can lead to poor-quality work, and it can impact their health as well.

Exhaustion can manifest itself as physical symptoms too. Employees who are burned out might begin having panic attacks, headaches, chest pain, increased heart rate, and nausea. They also might lose their appetite and begin to lose weight, or they might begin using food to cope with stress and gain weight.


Being burnt out means that a person might have a hard time concentrating or remembering important details. If an employee is making frequent mistakes or they are forgetting about meetings or deadlines, it is a good idea to look into the causes of this.


When someone is burned out, they might begin to stop participating in meetings, stop returning emails or phone calls, or avoid taking on new projects. You also might see them disconnect from the work environment as a whole. For example, they might not stop to chat with coworkers throughout the day or spend time in the breakroom being social; they also might not engage in workplace activities like they used to.


If an extroverted employee suddenly becomes distant, they might be having a bad day, or there is something going on in their personal life. However, if this isolation continues, or they start to become irritable when someone tries to talk to them, this can be a sign of burnout. If your company operates remotely, this can be hard to detect since you will not be able to physically see them withdrawing from work relationships.

Employees Have a Higher Sensitivity to Feedback

When someone is burned out, they might take criticism personally, and they might react by getting defensive or angry. You might hear someone say they “can’t do anything right” when they receive feedback.

Work Overload

Whether you are understaffed or just have a lot of work for your employees to do, overloading them can lead to burnout. If they are a perfectionist, they also might get too overloaded because they have unreal expectations for themselves and are perfectionists. Overworked employees often have a bad work-life balance, which can impact their mental health and make them get burned out.

Toxic Work Environment

While no manager or business owner wants to admit that their workplace is toxic, it happens and can cause employees to burn out. A toxic environment can be many things, including:

· Poor communication: There is a lack of open, honest, and respectful communication between employees and management. When managers or supervisors do not provide clear direction, fail to address concerns or complaints, or make decisions that negatively impact employees, this poor communication can make the environment toxic.

· Micromanagement: When employees feel like they are constantly being watched or their work is being excessively controlled, it can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment.

· Bullying or harassment: Any form of bullying or harassment in the workplace can create a toxic work environment.

· Lack of support: If your employees do not feel like they are supported by management or other teammates, this can lead to issues and a toxic environment.

· Discrimination: Discrimination of any kind, whether based on race, gender, age, religion, or other factors, can create a toxic work environment and lead to low morale and high turnover.

· Negative office culture: When negative attitudes or behaviors are allowed to persist among employees, it can create a negative office culture that is difficult to change.

· Job insecurity: If your business has a high turnover rate and the employees feel replaceable, this can create a toxic environment and lead to employees burning out or quitting.

How to Prevent Employee Burnout

Preventing employee burnout is important, and it requires a multifaceted approach. Let’s take a look at some of the things employers can do to prevent burnout.

Let Your Employees Take Time Off

Employees need to be able to get away sometimes to decompress. That means encouraging them to take a break, even if there is a lot of stuff going on. They need to feel that they are allowed to walk away from their desk for 15 minutes to get some air.

Do you offer paid time off? If not, it is an incentive that can greatly improve employee morale and reduce burnout. Employees need to feel like they can take a day off when they need to, or even just come in a little late or leave a little early once in a while.

Recognize Employee Contributions

Many employees feel like their employers do not value their work or contributions. If they feel appreciated, and like you notice, when they do a good job, they will be happier in their job and are less likely to burn out. Make an effort to acknowledge your team’s efforts and work, especially in front of other employees or managers. You might just say “thank you” to your employees when they turn something in or “good job,” but you can choose to go bigger. Reward their contributions in some way, like giving them extra time off or a gift card to the coffee shop they go to; this can help them feel like you notice their hard work.

Invest in Your Employees’ Mental Health

Anxiety disorders are common, and they can often lead to employees calling in sick or struggling with their performance. You can provide them with resources to help with their anxiety, and by doing so, you can show them that you truly care about their mental health. Rootd is an anxiety and panic attack relief app that can help your employees with their anxiety and prevent burnout. You will even be able to see anonymous data on how many of your employees are using the app and how they are doing, which can help you come up with other initiatives to help invest in their mental health.

Have an Open Dialogue About Burnout

Keep an open dialogue with your employees about burnout, and make sure it is something they know they can come to you about; do not make it a footnote in your meeting agendas. Ask your employees directly what you can do for them to help them stay fresh and encourage them to share any struggles they are having with work that you can help them with. By creating this network of support that helps your team feel supported, you can work on preventing burnout.

Encourage a Work-Life Balance

Offer your employees flexible hours and options for working remotely. By giving them better options for a work-life balance, you can help reduce their stress and prevent burnout. Employees with kids may think that they have to choose between taking care of their kids and working, but if you offer a little flexibility, you can help improve things for them. An employee whose child is sick but has the option of working from home so they can take care of them means they will not be calling in sick to take care of their kid.

Final Thoughts

Employee burnout is something that can hurt your employees’ physical and mental health, lower their productivity, and cause other issues in the workplace. You can help avoid this, though, by implementing some strategies to help your employees and show you care about their wellbeing.