Employee Burnout: How to Recognize and Prevent it?

Martin Večeřa

When you run an organization, the last thing you would want is employees giving up. Once the idea of giving up comes to them, it becomes difficult to get rid of it. Therefore, it is important to prevent employee burnout before it happens.

In this post, we will help you get to know everything about employee burnout and how you can avoid it in your organization.

What is Employee Burnout?

Burnout (also known as occupational burnout), as per the theoretical definition, refers to the response of an individual to interpersonal and emotional stressors within the workplace.

Employee burnout is not just the consequence of extended working hours or too much workload. There could be several factors, including complex causes, contributing to this phenomenon.

How to Know If an Employee is Burned Out?

Some of the common signs to look out for in the employees of your organization indicating a burnout could be:

  • Exhaustion – depletion of the emotional resources for coping with the current work environment. This results in an overwhelmed and stressed-out employee.
  • Cynicism – a distant attitude of an individual towards a particular job. It results in a disgruntled employee.
  • Inefficacy – reduction in the overall performance of an employee. It leads to the condition of a stressed-out employee developing a cynical attitude and giving up trying anything new.

Common Causes of Employee Burnout

Here are some of the common causes that could lead to employee burnout:

  • Overwhelming job demands – the most basic cause. There is simply too much to do.
  • Role conflict – job and role demands that are conflicting.
  • Role ambiguity – lack of information about the role that is needed for doing the job well.
  • Lack of the right resources – inadequate training or improper resources for performing the job properly.
  • Lack of feedback – if employees do not receive proper feedback, they will never know what they already do right and what they should improve.
  • Lack of social support – inappropriate social support from the supervisors has a major impact on the overall burnout, even greater than a lack of social support from the colleagues.
  • Minimal participation in decision-making – the less involved employees are in the processes of decision-making, the higher their frustration and the probability of burnout.

Personality Factors

If your organization has low level of flexibility, it can be easily associated with a higher rate of employee burnout. At the same time, burnout is also more frequent among employees who are out of control of their work environment. Individuals who are burned out tend to cope with difficult or stressful situations in a defensive and passive way.

Personal Factors

  • Mismatch in workload – when the employees are performing the wrong tasks or remain overloaded with work.
  • Control mismatch – lack of control over the resources required for doing the work effectively.
  • Lack of right awards – insufficient financial rewards, social rewards, or intrinsic rewards.
  • Improper personal connection with others – feeling disconnected or not able to share similar values with the colleagues.
  • Unfairness – cheating, unequal pay or workload, promotions or evaluations that are not handled properly.
  • Conflict between values – doing something that is unethical not in accordance with the individual’s personal values.

Effects of Workplace Burnout

Burnout in the workplace doesn’t only affect the overall performance of an employee. Additionally, it also impacts the overall performance of the entire team, as well as the work environment. Here are some of the effects of burnout happening at a workplace:

  • Ineffectiveness
  • Reduced productivity
  • Job withdrawals
  • Reduced job satisfaction
  • Disrupted job tasks of the coworkers
  • Increased number of personal conflicts between colleagues
  • Reduced commitment to the organization

How to Prevent Employee Burnout?

Burnout among employees is becoming more widespread in modern times. However, it would be a major mistake for the organizations to accept it as a standard norm rather than trying to prevent it.

It has toxic consequences – including workforce turnover, decreased productivity, chronic exhaustion, and more. Eventually, such factors can affect the overall physical as well as mental health of the employees.

So, how can the leadership of an organization address employee burnout and help the managers to identify its signs in their direct reports?

Here are six easy ways how the respective HR and People teams of the organization can prevent employee burnout.

No. 1: Equip the Managers with Tools for Understanding the Workloads of Employees

Unreasonable workloads account for around a third of the major reasons for employee burnout.

In the modern workplace, organizations are developing highly agile ways of working, with employees working across different teams coordinated by different managers.

Sometimes, the managers don’t have a clear overview of exactly what the direct reports are working on.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that managers have access to the right tools. A modern and flexible HR system equips the managers better for understanding the real extent of the projects.

No. 2: Offer Flexible & Remote Working

Given the latest advancements in modern technology, it has become seamless for employees to work remotely. Flexible and remote working concepts are quite simple.

Still, you need to give the right tools to the employees working remotely to allow them to maximize their overall productivity.

No. 3: Support the Well-being of Employees

One of the best ways of preventing employee burnout is by supporting the overall health and well-being of the individuals.

Good companies make use of the concept of People Science to monitor and improve the work-life balance of their employees.

Analyze the offerings that you are making beyond salary and other conventional benefits to the employees.

Ask the employees about their ideas on how to best support well-being within the company.

Encourage the workers to participate in engaging activities and give them access to information on how to improve their overall health, productivity, and wellness.

Emotional and practical support, online health coaches, discounts for healthcare and community-building activities are some of the innovative ways to enhance overall employee wellness in the workplace.

No. 4: Educate the Staff about Signs of Workplace Burnout

During a staff meeting, you should explain the common signs of burnout. Do employees consistently remain stressed out, struggle to focus while working, face difficulties while sleeping, and others?

If this is the case, then you should encourage them to discuss the issue with their manager, before it becomes a full-fledged case of employee burnout.

It is not always a simple task for the manager to identify a case of employee burnout. Therefore, it is crucial for managers to encourage their direct reports to let them know that they are struggling.

Together, the employees and managers can work together towards developing an action plan for ensuring that the employee is back on track and leading a balanced work life.

No. 5: Give Employees the Essential Tools for Managing Stress

Not every employee has enough knowledge on how to protect oneself from the burnout.

Managers can mentor others on time management and productivity skills – delegating, prioritizing, and focusing without multitasking or interruptions.

Employees are highly motivated when they feel productive. Smart tools like Work Operating System help them to concentrate better, collaborate smoothly without any interruptions and avoid unnecessary meetings and emails.

In case an employee is already burned out, but they are not able to take a vacation, then you should encourage them to at least put reminders to their calendar to take short breaks during the day.

No. 6: Encourage the Balance

In most job scenarios, there are stressful peaks wherein you are required to work harder for meeting a specific deadline. Once the deadline is met, you can take a step back, take a break and return to working at a normal pace.

Make use of some effective methods to take a break – particularly after some stressful time. For example, try going out together as a team and do some meaningful volunteering work.

When the workload is lower, ensure every member of the team to evaluate their system for time management and personal productivity. Managers are also expected to serve as a role model for creating balance in the workplace.


When it comes to delivering an amazing employee experience, the starting point for every company is different. While your business might be good at offering training and well-being support, it can still improve its options for flexible working.

Moreover, employees need to know where their place is – they need to know what to do, why it is important, and how to do it.

Fortunately, Lumeer is at hand and you can give it a try now.