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3 Signs Your Employees Are On the Brink of Burnout

August 13, 2015 / Uncategorized

The alarm on your cell-phone blares. Before you even snap your eyes open, your mind’s reeling with everything you’ve got to do today. Get dressed, get everyone out the door, brave the rush-hour commute to work. No time for a decent breakfast, so an extra large coffee will have to make do.

At work, it’s back-to-back meetings. A working lunch dedicated to that project you need to complete before day’s end. You grab take-out on the way home, because who has the time to prep a healthy dinner? And when it’s finally time to decompress, you can barely keep your eyelids open – let alone imagine hitting the gym to log a couple of miles.

Sound like a standard weekday? You’re not alone. It is for your employees, too.

Burnt to a Crisp

While today’s go, go, go lifestyle seems to spell out “success,” it’s actually doing more harm than good. Employees everywhere are on the brink of burnout, and it’s damaging their health – and your business. Stressed out employees cost organizations $300 billion annually and drive 46 percent higher healthcare costs. What’s more, 64 percent of employees with high stress levels say they feel extremely fatigued and out of control, and it’s costing 35 percent of people at least an hour of productivity each day.

But what can you really do, short of overhauling society? The answer lies in recognizing the telltale symptoms of burnout before it’s too late. Problem is signs run the gamut, and because on-going, low-grade stress can feel exhilarating (kind of like working against a deadline), it’s all too common for employees to miss the signals themselves.

Here’s three warning signs you’ll want to lookout for:

  1. A slump in productivity or quality: When top-notch employees start becoming unreliable, something’s up. Keep your eyes peeled for someone who’s regularly missing deadlines, racking up frequent complaints from clients, or whose performance has declined over the past couple of months.
  2. A detached, disengaged employee: Notice an A-plus employee suddenly seems to disconnect or lose their spark? Intervene ASAP. These feelings could manifest in the form of poor communication with co-workers, an overall lack of enthusiasm, or an unwillingness to collaborate with the group.
  3. An unusually pessimistic person: If a former department cheerleader turns into a Debbie Downer, it’s reason enough to raise the alarm. Be on the lookout for on-going negativity, endless complaints, and a previously high-performer who you can no longer encourage.

Nip Burnout in the Bud

Now that you know what the early stages of burnout look like, be sure you help employees stop it from progressing further.

Create a culture that discourages employees from burning the candle at both ends, and encourage managers and supervisors to create a caring team environment. When employees know they’re supported, they’ll feel more comfortable speaking up when they’re facing an obstacle or issue.

Offering tools and resources that support all areas of well-being is just as critical as company culture. These kinds of programs will not only communicate you care, but they’ll help your people manage everything they’ve got going on and protect your workforce against the damaging effects of burnout.

Burnout’s bad for business and even worse for employees – it’s as simple as that. Safeguard your organization and workforce by understanding the warning signs and giving your people the resources to help manage all of life’s stressors.

Read Lighting the Fire: 4 Simple Ways to Help Employees Beat Burnout to learn more about the toll employee burnout takes on your company, and why the power to prevent it is in your hands.


Kaite Rosa is Senior Marketing Communications Manager at Virgin Pulse, where she leverages her personal passion for health and happiness to write compelling content about employee well-being and engagement. Outside of work, Kaite likes to hit the road with her favorite running buddy, her 1-year-old rescue dog Marlee. Follow her on Twitter: @kaiterosa.

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