4 Signs of Employee Burnout & What to Do When You Spot It

EF Blog

Employee burnout is an issue that businesses of all sizes face. If overlooked, it can lead to high turnover, disrupt the organization’s culture, impact productivity, and cut into profits. To deal with employee burnout, you first need to recognize the signals and then work with your employees to address it. It is important to take proactive steps to avoid burnout.

How can you proactively prevent employee burnout? By taking steps such as:

  • Fostering an open dialogue about an employee’s workload
  • Providing the necessary resources for employees to do their work efficiently
  • Encouraging employees to act on innovative ideas or process improvements that will positively affect the organization
  • Having clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • Allowing appropriate flexibility in the workday
  • Scheduling breaks throughout the day and encouraging employees to take them

Despite your best efforts, sometimes burnout stills happens. Watch for these four signs so that you can swiftly take action.

1. Increased Absenteeism

When typically reliable employees start taking unplanned time off work, it may be a sign that something is wrong. While it could be a personal issue that they are dealing with, it could also be a sign of burnout. The first step is to talk with the employee about why their behavior has changed. If it is in fact a personal issue, perhaps there is a way the organization can support the employee. However, if the behavior has changed because of a work issue, it is your accountability as their leader to help the employee address it.

After identifying the issue, work with the employee to create an action plan to alleviate the feeling of being burnt out. Perhaps adjusting work hours or reallocating their workload is a good place to start. If it’s not a functional issue and the right balance of time and tasks already exists, consider a development program that fosters accountability and ownership of their work. When the employee feels personal accountability and understands that their contribution makes a difference, absenteeism decreases, and engagement increases.

2. Decreased Engagement

When an employee who is typically proactive and engaged becomes less interested in work, it’s a sign that burnout could be on the horizon. You can re-engage valuable employees by creating new challenges and setting up a coaching program to refresh their level of engagement and show your support for their growth and development.

Start by discussing career goals and work together to define the best path to reach them. Set up regular check-ins to monitor progress toward milestones. When disengaged employees have a new reason to boost their performance, chances are that they will be excited to rise to the occasion.

3. Explosive Reactions

Negative communication tactics like snapping at coworkers, yelling at employees, and being more sensitive to criticism than usual are indications of higher stress levels and possible precursors to burnout. For example, frustration with a colleague about how a certain task is performed can cause tensions to rise and contribute to burnout. That is when having the ability to effectively communicate that frustration and make changes before it comes to a head will not only foster better teamwork but also decrease the chances of employee burnout due to avoidable issues.

4. Time Management Complaints

If an employee claims that there isn’t enough time to get work done, it might be the case that the workload is unreasonable, in which case, you may need to reallocate tasks among the team. However, if the workload is realistic and an employee still can’t complete tasks in the course of their workday, it is more than likely a time management issue. Feeling overwhelmed with work is a sure sign of potential burnout. Providing training for improving time management skills is one way to develop organized employees who understand their stressors. Employees will then be able to more effectively prioritize tasks, make effective lists, and understand how their work contributes to the overall goal.

When you see these signs, don’t ignore them or assume they will fix themselves. Catching burnout early and strategizing how to alleviate it will stop it before it becomes a major issue. Make it a priority to talk to the employee about their behavior and, when possible, provide the necessary training and tools to help them solve their issue.

About the author

Dave_RootDave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.



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