7 Warning Signs of Employee Burnout at Work

Even though the economy may be showing some signs of life, when it comes to small businesses and hiring, slow and steady seem to be the operative words. If you are running a small business and have been asking for more from your employees while providing fewer resources, then your employees may be at risk for work-related burnout.


Burnout is a serious concern. It’s not something that should be so quickly ignored- especially since instances of burnout on the job will typically occur among your most valuable, loyal workers. These are the people who are willing to tow the line to keep the company and it’s profits afloat.

As the owner or manager of a small business, make sure to be on the lookout for these 7 warning signs of burnout among your employees. Keep in mind that where burnout is an issue, many of these signs will come together and that their sudden appearance will generally stand out as both noticeable and unusual compared to past performance and behavior:

1. Lethargy, less productive. Workers known to be enthusiastic about their jobs start producing less. You may even notice a kind of heaviness, or conversely, a kind of dreamy disconnect as they go about their day.

2. Decrease in quality of work. Often, a drop in productivity will be accompanied by a noticeable decrease in the quality of the work produced. Tasks may be left unfinished or incomplete; there may be increased sloppiness or other work-related defects.

3. Health issues. Often, the stress underlying employee burnout can lead to a host of medical problems, from benign conditions, such as migraine headaches as well as unusually incidents of colds, flu, and other common viruses, to more serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart problems.

4. Higher rate of absenteeism. When employees are not healthy, then they may claim more sick days. Moreover, even where an employee experiencing burnout is not sick, there may a reluctance to come in for work. Loyal employees who rarely missed a day, may suddenly have spotty attendance.

5. Moodiness and irritability. Workers who were once relaxed and amicable, suddenly become hard to work with. It will be as if they are surrounded by a dark cloud that follows them around. This moodiness and irritability may be directed at both co-workers and customers.

6. Less sociable. Employees who are experiencing burnout on the job, may suddenly become anti-social or more secretive at work.

7. Self-destructive behavior. Another possible warning sign of burnout is the appearance of drug and/or alcohol abuse. Even a drastic change in diet can be an indication that something is off.

In my next post, I’ll discuss what you should do if you suspect that either you or your employees are experiencing work-related burnout.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *