Workplace Burnout: How to Diagnose and Avoid

female employee experiencing burnout at computer

Workplace burnout is a challenge across all industries and job types. The average employee has a multitude of responsibilities each day – work, children, caregiving, friends, exercise – it’s no wonder almost two thirds of today’s workforce experience burnout at some point, according to a recent Gallup study.

What is burnout?  

Burnout occurs when employees experience chronic workplace stress that has gone unsuccessfully managed, says the World Health Organization. It is considered an “occupational phenomenon” that may require medical attention.

What causes burnout? 

Some of the most common contributors to workplace burnout include unmanageable deadlines and workloads, lack of support from managers, lack of role clarity, and pressure to respond to work emails and texts after hours, says to CNBC.

employees in a stressful meeting talking about burnout

How to recognize burnout behavior 

The World Health Organization characterizes symptoms of burnout as:

    • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
    • Increased mental distance from and/or negative feelings about one’s job
    • Reduced professional efficiency

How does burnout impact the workplace?  

The negative effects of workplace burnout are felt at individual and organizational levels. Burnt-out employees may experience psychological and physical issues which result in an estimated $125-$190 billion in U.S. healthcare spending each year.

Additional effects of burnout include: 

    • Company finances
    • Employee morale
    • Workplace safety
    • Low productivity
    • High turnover
    • Loss of good talent

male employee stressed out at work

Strategies for avoiding workplace burnout  

Implement a burnout prevention strategy for employee:  Personal Energy Protection (PEP) – PEP is a program that aims to protect employees’ health and well-being from the detrimental effects of burnout and stress. PEP helps individuals identify warning signs and address workplace stress before impacting employee health and well-being.

Employee education: educate your team about stress and burnout through an internal newsletter or regular communications from leadership. Focus on creating a culture that encourages individuals to recognize burnout behavior and address any concerns.

Schedule regular check-ins: touch base with employees on a consistent basis to evaluate whether they are feeling overwhelmed by their current workload.

manager and employee talking about burnout strategies

Connect personal values with the company mission: help employees connect personal values to those of the company. This helps improve employee morale and overall satisfaction in their roles.

Conduct employee engagement surveys: If burnout is especially present at your company, conducting an annual, quarterly, or even monthly employee engagement survey will help you determine how individuals are feeling in their roles and make changes before burnout occurs, says the Society for Human Resource Management.

Employee burnout isn’t inevitable, but with education, management, and open communication, it can be minimized to provide a better work experience for everyone involved.