May 17, 2017 Erin Hall

5 Major Signs of Employee Burnout (And How to Fix Them)

In our work providing corporate chair massages, we hear from a lot of HR mangers and wellness directors about an important topic: employee burnout. These wellness directors, HR managers, and CEOs know burnout is a real issue, which is why we’re there in the first place.

Like most anything, it’s easier to prevent an issue than to try to pick up the pieces after something has exploded. So here are some signs and symptoms of employee burnout — and what to do about them.

Burnout means low engagement, which ultimately means low performance. And that’s bad for business. It’s not that burnt out employees don’t care – it’s that they’ve cared too much for too long without refilling the reservoir, and they’re left with nothing left to give. If any of these signs look familiar around your office, it’s time to take some action. 


Watch Your Company For These 5 Signs of Employee Burnout


signs of employee burnout

Sign #1: Your Employees Have Low Engagement

Workers who are unenthusiastic about their jobs produce low quality work. There are many reasons an employee might be disengaged from the work and job tasks, and some of these reasons can be prevented.

When employees aren’t solicited for input or ideas on company policies or hiring decisions, it will seriously impair their interest in the workplace culture.

How To Fix It

Never underestimate the importance of employee buy-in.

Whether it’s a policy change or the hiring of a new team member, your employees want at least a little say in the matter.It’s always a good idea to get employee input during some stage of a hiring process to assess how everyone feels about a potential candidate. While the ultimate hiring decision may lie in the hands of the CEO or HR director, your current employees want to know that you value their opinion on who would make a good addition to their team.  

The key to becoming engaged with a work task is caring about the outcome, and the best way for that to happen is to be in charge of as much of the task as possible. Employees who have decision-making capabilities for their workload, and who have freedom and autonomy to work without a micromanaging leader will produce the best results.

Related: Top 3 Ways to Improve Employee Retention

Sign #2: Your Employees Are Dropping the Ball

When tasks start getting left unfinished, or little mistakes start showing up regularly, it’s likely your employees are overworked. When workers are treading water everyday just to keep on top of the most important tasks, corners get cut. The cause for this could be a bottleneck in the way a project moves forward — or it could be the sheer number of tasks and responsibilities an employee has.

How To Fix It

A good manager’s main focus should be how to make the work flow easier for the employees so they can produce the quality work you hired them for. Ask employees to make a list of the tasks they do that take up more of their time than they’d like. Have them list what they actually do, not just what’s in their job description.

Management needs to listen to employee ideas about how the work process could be improved. Does one department constantly hold up other departments, creating crunch time for everyone else? If so, how can it be prevented?


employee burnout

Sign #3: Your Employees Are Out Sick A Lot

We all know that stress makes people sick. In addition to making people more likely to get common colds, there are the inevitable body aches and sore muscles that come along with too many hours on the clock.

Combine that with poor diet, lack of exercise, and bad sleeping habits, and your employees are likely to be calling in sick a lot. This slows production in a big way.

 How To Fix It

Though employers can’t expect to turn a worker’s health around all on their own, making wellness a priority at work can have a big impact on people’s health.

An office wellness program can include healthy snacks, water instead of soda in the break room, gym passes, an in-office massage program, and ergonomic desks and workstations.

Giving an adequate number of days off (paid or not) and understanding that employees have a life outside of work, will go along way in keeping your workers in tip top shape.

Related: 8 Creative Wellness Program Ideas You Haven’t Considered

Sign #4: Your Employees Are Moody

Have you noticed that people have been a little more negative or pessimistic in a way that is out of character for them? That’s a huge sign of employee burnout. If morale is low, they’ve got a lot on their plate, or they’re feeling undervalued, they may bring a bad attitude to work. .

 How To Fix It

Focus on positivity. During your meetings it is important to solve problems but be sure to talk about the accomplishments that your employees have made. If you balance out the problem-solving with celebration of what’s already working, it’ll be easier for everyone to stay positive.

employee burnout

Sign #5: Your Employees Are Quiet (Or Chatty)

If you’re noticing a change in your employees’ social habits, they may be experiencing burnout. Chatty employees may be avoiding their long list of things to do, while quiet employees may be overwhelmed.

How To Fix It

Make sure your employees aren’t overloaded. Check in with your team, ask them what they’re spending their time on and find a way to help them balance their responsibilities. A healthy work-life balance is essential to avoiding burn-out. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


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