How to Recognize Signs of Employee Burnout

How to Recognize Signs of Employee Burnout

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For years, workplace stress has been a problem. A prominent study by Deloitte found that 77% of respondents experienced burnout at their current job. What’s more, 70% felt their employers weren’t doing enough to alleviate burnout. 

To say that the last 13 months have brought significant stress to our lives is the understatement of the millennium, and unsurprisingly, employee burnout has skyrocketed during the pandemic. Though working from home is supposed to afford flexibility, it may be contributing to burnout due to no commute time to decompress, no turning off the computer/phone, and lack of socializing with peers, among other factors. 

As a business owner, you’re in the unenviable position to keep your employees engaged during such a fraught time, but there’s too much at stake to not be equal to the task. 

To that end, we’re here to help by identifying signs of employee burnout and you can prevent it. 

The Warning Signs 

If there’s any good news about employee burnout, it’s that it’s easy to recognize. 

Decline in Work Performance – When an employee isn’t doing their job well, it’s pretty glaring. Signs to look for, among others, include, disorganization, distractibility, not meeting deadlines, sub-standard project work, or late deliverables. 

Coming to Work Late or Not at All –  If your oft reliable team member suddenly starts arriving to work late or uses sick days more frequently than before, that signals burnout. This is called absenteeism, and it also occurs when employees miss meetings, are late, or disengaged. 

Customer Complaints – Another telltale sign is when you start hearing poor feedback from customers about the quality of service provided by your employee. This can include unresponsiveness, poor communication, passing the buck, and irritability. 

Change in Attitude – It doesn’t take much to recognize when an employee doesn’t seem like themselves. This bears out in changes in attitude, like avoidance, non-receptiveness to feedback, indifference, or hostility. 

Impact on Your Business

As we’ve previously written, employee engagement is critical to the success of your company. Employee burnout is a serious concern and carries several consequences that are detrimental to your business, such as loss of productivity, slower growth, disruptions to customer service, and damage to company reputation. 


While there are many signs of burnout, there are also many ways to prevent it. 

Early Intervention – The moment you sense an employee is struggling, reach out before it escalates to full on burnout. Schedule a one-on-one, ask how they’re feeling and what you can do to help.

Employee Satisfaction Survey – A best practice is to administer surveys routinely to check the pulse of morale. Keep them anonymous and ask good questions, like, “How do you feel about your job?”, “Do you have everything you need to be successful?”, and “How can we help with work/life balance?”

Monitor Workloads and Tasks – Employees struggle when they are overworked. High expectations are one thing, but they need to be realistic given the person’s role and experience. Additionally, to the best of your ability, have your employee do the job they were hired for. Too often, staff are expected to wear many hats, which can inhibit them from excelling at any one job. You don’t want someone saying, “I didn’t sign up for this.”

Don’t Micromanage – An unnecessary stressor for employees is micromanagement. As we’ve noted, micromanaging takes employees out of their element, making them feel as though you’re constantly looking over their shoulder. This wears on employees and can cause stalls in production.


This one is easier said than done, but giving employees time away from the company or home office allows them to reset, which can be the very thing they need to recover from burnout. 

Finally, business owners are vulnerable to burnout, as well. A survey by Development Dimensions International’s Global Leadership Forecast this year found that nearly 60% of leaders felt used up at the end of the workday, a strong indicator of burnout. Therefore, leading by example is crucial and will help you maintain a clear head so that you can help your employees. 

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