Employee burnout in the workplace

MX Bites / April 7, 2022

Employee burnout is not a new thing and across all industries, workers are reporting extraordinarily high levels of burnout. When we’re feeling overburdened, overwhelmed, and checked out, we’re particularly inclined to take the easy route.

Tackling burnout isn’t just about implementing a well-being program. It’s about identifying root causes and changing workplace habits. Asking leadership to set the tone moving forward by prioritizing self-care, and creating a safe space for workers to turn to. Since employees look to their managers and leadership to learn what acceptable behaviors are in the workplace. Thus, leadership needs to be the champions of mental health and well-being.

When employees see their manager work through lunch, not take personal time off or work while on vacation, they assume they need to do the same as well. This perpetuates a culture of burnout, creating an exceedingly high expectation from staff since it’s never the kind of conversation you openly have. 

So, What is Burnout?

Burnout is much more than just feeling, and can come from a sense of overwhelming stress more specifically stress-related factors to the job. It’s a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and productivity. Burnout can happen when highly engaged employees experience low well-being due to unmanaged personal and/or workplace stressors. It’s also “contagious” — it can spread toxicity across a team or spill into people’s home life.

What are the tell-tale signs of Burnout?

Employers must oversee the welfare of their workers and consider the employee burnout signs at the earliest. For employees experiencing stress and pressure, seeking help or talking about it with colleagues or employers is an excellent way to handle the situation. It’s also essential to take regular breaks during the workday, weekends, or holidays to unwind and cope with stress. Here are some signs of prospective burnout;

    • Exhaustion
    • Poor concentration levels 
    • Irritability
    • Reluctance to complete a task or procrastination
    • Recurring illness
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Poor eating habits 
    • Frequent on the jobs mistakes, or errors
Most common causes of Burnout at work:

Employees who are completely burned out have lost sight of meaning in their work. It’s imperative that companies understand the impact burnout has on employee engagement and business results. Here are typical causes of burnout in the workplace;

    • Overload — workload and time
    • Pressure
    • Role conflict and ambiguity
    • Lack of support from managers
    • Lack of feedback, fairness, equity, and participation in decision making
    • Values disconnect
    • A “broken” psychological contract between an employer and employee
It’s time to get vocal about wellness and mental health:

Awareness of mental health is increasing, however, we still live in a world where people face discrimination and challenges in getting the help they need. To support workers, savvy companies are prioritizing wellness, support, and empowerment. Staff are being encouraged and educated on matters surrounding these factors, bringing them to light. In our last EX blog post, we shared how businesses can support mental health.  The effectiveness lies in keeping an ear to the ground by really tuning into what employees are saying, and with the right tools, allowing employees themselves to ask and engage can bring issues that you need to solve to the forefront.


Burnout is preventable. It requires good organizational hygiene, better data, asking more timely and relevant questions, smarter budgeting, and ensuring that wellness offerings are included as part of your well-being strategy. By recognizing both signs and symptoms you have the ability to recover, by building a road map for prevention.

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