4 Early Signs of Employee Burnout Every Employer Needs to Watch For

PUBLISHED18 October 2021

When it comes to successful, thriving businesses, it should go without saying that hard-working, dedicated employees are not optional. However, in order for a given employee to be his very best, he needs to be happy and satisfied with his work and with his position in the company. Burnout needs to be avoided at all costs and a smart employer knows how to recognise the signs before it’s too late.

Everyone knows what burnout looks like once things have reached critical mass, but in most cases, there were early warning signs that employers missed or failed to do anything about. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common.

1.      Increasingly Frequent Absences

Most people take a couple of sick days a year for personal reasons or because of increased stress in their lives. Also, everyone is going to occasionally come down with a nasty bug that keeps them away from the office. However, it’s important to be on the lookout for drastic drops in a given employee’s attendance level. If someone who was once super reliable and eager to show up for work is calling in sick more and more often, it could be a sign of burnout.

2.      Decrease in Productivity

When people are overly stressed or unhappy at work, it can’t help but be reflected in their productivity levels. If a once enthusiastic, productive employee starts showing a decline in their output or the quality of their work, it could be a sign they’re no longer personally invested in what they do. You may also find that you simply notice a general disconnect between the person and the task at hand.

3.      Frequent Break-Taking

One way people instinctively deal with looming burnout is by taking more breaks and timeouts from work-related tasks. While some break-taking is positive and healthy, take notice if someone slowly begins taking significantly more coffee breaks, cigarette breaks, or chat breaks than they once did. The chances are excellent that they are under too much stress at work, that their workload is too heavy, or that they are beginning to see their work as drudgery.

4.      Change in Sociability

Some people – especially those that are more introverted – may withdraw from the rest of the crowd at work when stress levels and burnout risk rise. If someone that was once very sociable and friendly begins to show signs of anti-social or secretive behavior, it could be a sign that they’re close to burning out. In the cases of some people, you may just start to get the impression that they’re always down, as if a dark cloud is following them wherever they go.

The signs above may be present in singular individuals or they may manifest across entire departments or companies. When you notice them, get involved. Make sure you’re promoting a healthful work-life balance and encouraging employees to take enough vacations or breaks. Check your expectations to make sure they’re not unrealistic.

Also, make sure to communicate often enough with your employees. Find out what they need in order to feel excited about their jobs again and touch base with each person often. The effort will pay off in a big way for you, your employees, and your company.

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