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Employee Burnout: The Early Signs and Prevention

9 min read

Did you know that 53% of the millennial workforce was already experiencing burnout in the pre-covid era? Sadly, it has only worsened to 59% post-covid impacting them to a greater extent. Employees have been affected in various ways by the pandemic, whether it’s not knowing when to log off or the disproportionate impact it is indeed making on working mothers and families who are crammed into smaller workspaces and cut off from their colleagues. 

Employee burnout is more than just needing a break from work or being temporarily exhausted by a difficult job. Instead, it’s a state of long-term workplace stress that causes tiredness, irritation, and a defeatist attitude, all of which harm an employee’s personal and professional lives. 

Task imbalance, excessive work expectations, problematic workplace interactions, being in an emotionally draining career, or simply feeling out of control can all contribute to the condition. Burnout is more widespread than employers may realize: 75% of individuals have experienced it. The recent stress of the COVID-19 outbreak hasn’t helped the situation; 40% of workers say they’ve experienced burnout as a result of the pandemic. 

Employee burnout isn’t something that happens overnight, which means sone relief. It develops gradually, giving employees and employers ample opportunity to spot and respond to warning indicators. 

5 Signs of Employee Burnout 

Exhaustion on different levels 

When working long hours, or in a last-minute hurry, or an emergency, it’s natural to feel fatigued and worn out. However, it gets more problematic when an employee exhibits prolonged signs of emotional, mental, and physical tiredness. They may appear jaded, forgetful, unable to focus, and exhausted the moment they arrive in the morning, owing to a lack of sleep.  

Physical indicators such as dark circles under their eyes, a pale appearance, a gain or loss of weight, gloomy to blank facial expressions, or a substantial disregard in the way they look (especially if this person generally displays himself or herself effectively) can sometimes be the first indicators. Exhaustion can be more easily identified, if not mentally, then physically, if you make a concerted effort to check in with your workforce. 

Decreased Engagement 

Employees on the edge of burnout may perceive a disconnect with their work and people, which is not the same as being stressed out. Whereas stress can motivate us to take action, burnout can lead to a loss of interest, hope, and a lapse in our work performance. 

Although a disengaged employee does not necessarily indicate that he or she is on the verge of burnout, it can be a precursor to something far more catastrophic if not addressed appropriately. Find out the reasons and intensity of the situation before it spins out of control and your employee gets over the point of caring and feels alienated from his or her surroundings. 

Absenteeism is on the rise 

The employees who are on the edge of burnout are more likely to take sick days and be absent more frequently because they are experiencing mental, emotional, or physical discomfort. Some people may be unable to get out of bed due to chronic stress and work overload, while others may simply be demotivated by their jobs or having to deal with co-workers or management.  

These individuals may cause more mishaps or errors in their work as a result of their loss of attention and effort. This is particularly disturbing when they are working with large machinery, dealing with extremely technical aspects, or when the security of others is at their disposal. 


You must not turn your back if you see that an employee who is typically quite cheerful and vivacious at work has become more isolated and aloof, is avoiding others, or isn’t in his or her regular personality. Of course, we all have bad days, but if this starts to become the norm, you don’t want it to get any worse. 

Imagine if this person was introverted, to begin with; due to their reserved character, you might not have recognized at all if anything was wrong. Another reason why indicators of employee burnout can go unnoticed if you don’t take the time to stop and pay attention is that you don’t make a conscious effort to do so. Know who your introverted employees are because their sentiments of pessimism can go unnoticed on the surface and be mistaken as simply being aloof. 

Productivity has deteriorated 

Productivity and performance will suffer if the situation worsens. Employees are unable to concentrate on their jobs due to stress, and thoughts of being overwhelmed and unable to catch up may make them feel as if their efforts are in vain. Gradually they experience their performance graph falling down which in turn impacts the overall productivity of the team. 

Preventing Employee Burnout 

Burnout can be caused by a variety of factors, including overburdening individuals with work, favoritism, misaligned values, a lack of workplace community or autonomy, or a lack of necessary resources. And, in a new work environment, many people are fighting to achieve balance without their previous coping methods (going to the gym, socializing with friends, etc.). Why not put them in a position to succeed? 

  • Make sure your expectations are clear and realistic, and that they are understood. 
  • Ascertain that employees have the resources they require. 
  • Consistently provide training 
  • Demonstrate to employees their worth and contributions to the organization’s objectives. 
  • Promote standard working hours as well as provide time for breaks. 
  • Assist those who may feel compelled to work beyond usual business hours in assessing their workloads. 
  • Through video conferences, foster social support and mutual respect within the team. 

Employee burnout prevention will differ depending on the firm and the role. Capacity planning and other agile approaches are often used to effectively prevent burnout in some fast-paced internal departments. Roles that have a mental toll, such as nursing, may benefit from counseling services to prevent burnout. Core work hours for remote teams may help workers to detach more readily at the end of the day. Develop programs and procedures that will work best for your specific workforce, so you can prevent burnout. 

As the Covid crisis continues to spread havoc, it’s critical that your workforce feels empowered and engaged, as they try to sail through the rapidly changing circumstances. And we have got it covered! Yes, Keka has got an innovative solution. Our Pulse Surveys not just help you in engaging your employees but also benefits you with discovering the early signs of burnout through the responses. Excited already? Check it out yourself!     

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    Meet the author


    Content Writer

    Bhagyashree Shreenath is a full-time Content Writer at Keka Technologies. She is very passionate about writing and loves to write about the gaps in organization & human resource management strategies to handle the related concerns. When she isn’t writing, you will find her reading a book, or exploring new places.


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