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Job burnout – How to spot it and what to do about it

5 minutes

Burnout is a problem that affects all types of people in all types of organisationsIt can so...

Burnout is a problem that affects all types of people in all types of organisations

It can sometimes be hard for employers to spot the early warning signs. Sadly, this means sometimes it can progress to the point where it seriously starts to affect a person’s motivation, productivity, and sense of self-satisfaction.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Burnout

In addition, the darker nights drawing in can increase instances of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can exacerbate any problems with stress and burnout by causing depression, lack of energy, loss of concentration, loss of appetite, and feelings of being under a black cloud.

Causes of burnout at work

Causes of burnout at work could be due to many reasons, such as lack of control over factors that affect the job, dysfunctional workplace dynamics, unrealistic job expectations, lack of support, work-life imbalance, and many other factors. According to the WHO, when burnout is left untreated, it can lead to serious physical and psychological illnesses such as depression, heart disease, and diabetes.

Spotting the Signs of Burnout

In this blog, we look at ways to spot the tell-tale signs, protect your employees, and keep your business running smoothly.

1. Exhaustion

An overload of stress at work can cause problems with relaxing at the end of the day and trouble sleeping, which leads to constant fatigue. If your employees seem overly tired or are complaining about not getting enough sleep, this could be a warning sign.

2. Irritability

Have you noticed someone suddenly struggling to get along with everyone and being irritable? This could be a sign the person is under a lot of pressure and may need some reassurance or help with their workload. Irritability can leave people feeling ineffective and unimportant.

3. Mistakes

One of the signs of burnout is an inability to concentrate and remember things, ultimately leading to mistakes being made. You can help staff by being supportive and giving them space to talk about which aspects of their job are overwhelming them. Perhaps some of these can be delegated or made easier? Reassure them that they are not at risk of losing their job and that you just want to help.

4. Depression

Burnout can frequently lead to depression, which can manifest itself as a drop in confidence, acting withdrawn, and worrying about workload and deadlines. Encourage employees to talk about how they are feeling in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

5. Sickness

When people are stressed, they are much more vulnerable to colds and viruses. Have you noticed staff taking more time off sick recently? Perhaps it’s time to dig a little deeper and see if there is more to it than meets the eye.

6. Cynical and negative outlook

Are there signs of a negative outlook and cynicism in the workplace? This can also be a sign of burnout. Cynicism also affects trust and loyalty in co-workers or management and can lead to low productivity. Make sure you have transparent processes and that employees know you are there if they need to talk. Perhaps try changing their routine to see if this helps them feel enthusiastic again.

Taking Action

Re-engaging burnt-out employees isn’t easy and can take weeks or months of work on both sides to find the best solution for everyone. Managers need to be aware of their own role in creating workplace stress so it can be addressed and prevented from happening again in the future. It’s important to keep talking to employees individually about how they feel mentally as well as professionally. Make sure you listen properly to their concerns and don’t dismiss them or give negative feedback, and it’s vital not to apportion blame.


Ultimately, it’s important to find a solution that works for both the employee and the company to keep everyone performing at their best and promote a happy and healthy workplace.

Contact Us

Is a lack of resource causing high workloads in your organisation? Contact your local Meridian branch for advice on how we can support you find your new hire.

Email us at info@meridianbusinesssupport.co.uk.