How to spot signs of burnout

How to spot signs of burnout


  • Date: Thursday 26th August 2021
  • PDF: Download

A recent story on LinkedIn of how an employee was banned from working for two weeks by her employer after they noted signs of burnout has highlighted the importance for line managers to look for indicators of burnout post-pandemic.

Organisations with exhausted employees that are performing below their best can become a negative influence on other team members. Unless the situation is addressed, the individual may become a long-term issue for management or simply leave.

For an individual stretched beyond their capacity there can also be long-term impacts to their mental and physical health.

The signs of burnout can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Weakened immune
  • Depression
  • Brain fog
  • Loss of enthusiasm and energy
  • Apathy and disinterest
  • Negativity and cynicism
  • Loss of productivity and efficiency
  • Change of character – e.g., from normally being positive to negative

These signs may not necessarily be an indicator of burnout as other factors could be at play (such as problems outside of work or challenging workplace relationships), but they are a sign that something is impacting the employee which needs to be addressed and support offered.

What can employers do?

  • Ensure managers speak to a team member of concern and give them an opportunity to open up on why they are “not their normal self”. An open work culture where employees receive support when they do speak about issues impact them will build trust and engagement.
  • Consider having mental health first aiders who some employees may feel more able to open up to than their manager. If you do not have mental health first aiders in your workforce and would like to explore this further, please contact us at SSG and we can discuss your needs and identify the most appropriate training for your organisation.
  • Consider the work life boundaries of your employees as there has been a blurring of boundaries since the start of the pandemic. Employers should set clear rules about work hours and when communication is and is not acceptable. Be clear about when it is acceptable to send emails or make work calls. Managers need to lead by example and not send emails on Sunday evenings as this will undermine any attempt to set boundaries.
  • Where an employer has concerns about an employee burning out there is an option to enforce annual leave to ensure the individual gets an extended rest. To enforce holiday, the employer simply needs to give the employee notice to take leave. The notice needs to be twice as long as the period of time off. For example, if you want an employee to take a week off, you would need to give them two weeks’ notice.
  • Consider investing in an employee assistance line or counselling services and ensure these are widely publicised and accessible for all employees.

Source: Gavin Parrott


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