How to Notice Signs of Employee Burnout

As businesses near the anniversary of one year of being remote, employee burnout has become a leading trouble spot in their workforce. A poll by FlexJobs found that 20% of workers were experiencing burnout specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So how do companies combat this issue within their teams? In the following sections are tips on how to recognize this problem, what leadership can do to fix it, and tools they can use to support their employees.

Factors of a Burnout

Lots of employees are guilty of burning the candles at both ends, especially when work life and home life are combined into one space. The inability to leave work at work or to disconnect after working hours has many people overextending themselves at their jobs. However, it’s not just the ability to stop working that’s causing burnout.

A Gallup survey found other reasons for burnout including:

  • Unfair treatment at work
  • Unmanageable workload
  • Unreasonable time pressure
  • Lack of support or communication from manager or supervisor
  • Miscommunication on what a role involves

So the cause of an employee’s burnout may also be the result of the company culture. It’s important for leadership to realize that it’s not only an individual who needs to be routinely checked in on, but an examination of the company as a whole can find other reasons for increased burnout rates.

Recognizing burnout is complicated too. There are physical signs such as disengagement with projects, increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, and higher sensitivity to job feedback. Mental symptoms may also appear like inability to concentrate on tasks, difficulty sleeping, hopelessness, and isolation from colleagues. Management should have regularly scheduled meetings with team leaders to review symptoms of burnout and what may signal an individual’s downward spiral to quickly help people. However, it can be hard for managers to notice when someone is exhibiting signs of burnout, so it is critical to focus on ways to prevent burnout before it begins, as the next section highlights.

How to Prevent Employee Burnout

There are multiple ways of halting an employee’s descent to burnout. One of the easiest ways to check on a person’s well-being is to simply ask them how they are doing. Sending a message or calling up an individual once a week or daily to ask how their week is going or if they need assistance on anything is a great way leadership can support their team members.

Another effective tool is to frequently communicate boundaries for work. Although it’s easier than ever to communicate with a team 24/7, there need to be limits regarding when people are “on” at work. Even though there will be days that turn into nights of completing a project on a deadline or hosting a last-minute deal-breaker meeting, do not get into the practice of doing it all the time. Or create a system for allowing people to recoup from those longer sessions. Leadership should frequently meet or discuss their realistic expectations for when the workday begins and ends. That way, managers can bring these outlines to their teams to reiterate the importance of life/work balance.

There are also daily self-care methods to help employees. It can vary from industry to industry, but companies can communicate to their teams the importance of getting the right amount of sleep each night, the benefits of going outside at least once a day, or scheduling times for a break during the workday. Again, these practices differ from business to business but they’re great tools for preventing employee exhaustion.

Tools to Help Recovery from Burnout

Despite a team’s best efforts, there are bound to be instances of employees pushing their limits and experiencing a burnout period. However, this does it mean a person cannot recover and there are ways of getting an employee back into good working habits.

There are small things that leadership can do such as:

  • Showing appreciation for an employee’s efforts
  • Recognizing individual and team achievements
  • Giving thanks to the workforce after the completion of a major goal or project
  • Being available to listen and talk with employees when needed

Other ways to help with recovery or preventing burnout are encouraging participation in an employee wellness program, surprising individuals with little pick-me-ups such as food item delivery, or limiting overtime. These might go above and beyond the usual employee-boss understanding, but a little extra work on leadership’s end goes a long way for an individual who has been working overtime to finish a project or help the business succeed. In some cases, burnout can have a big effect on a person’s life and any way the company can help them recover will help with positive feelings towards their job.

Employee burnout is on the rise across industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, learning to recognize burnout characteristics, as well as supporting individuals while they recover can help companies get people back on track. Remember, a company is nothing without its workforce.

Dyann Ivey - Recruiter

About the Author:

This article is written by Dyann Ivey, Recruiter at Automationtechies.

Catch her on LinkedIn or by email.