Statistics show employee and work burnout are on the rise. A recent survey found 52% of employees felt burned out, and that number is up from previous surveys. It’s a serious problem as burnout can lead to or worsen other mental health issues such as depression or anxiety and even lead to physical health problems.
How do you know if you’re headed for burnout or employees in your office are experiencing burnout symptoms? Here are some signs of work burnout that should raise red flags.
An Increase in Negativity
A key sign of work burnout is negativity and feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction, and even anger. You dread going to work every day. When you think about what lies ahead for the day — answering emails, making sales calls, or brainstorming product ideas — you feel nothing but dread, anxiety, and even anger about having to do it all again tomorrow.
Work Performance is Declining
Declining performance and productivity at work is a cardinal sign of work burnout. When you’re burned out, you lack the motivation and enthusiasm you once had, and it shows up as reduced performance at work. You might feel bored and have trouble starting or completing projects.
Burnout can show up as procrastination, too. You put off doing work-related activities because your motivation is dwindling. The more you put off projects, the more you doubt your ability to do them, and self-doubt sets in. It can turn into a vicious cycle of procrastination, frustration, and self-doubt that’s hard to break.
Feelings That What You Do is Meaningless
Work burnout can cause you to feel your job is meaningless. You may begin to feel disconnected from co-workers and the organization itself. You no longer want to participate in meetings, and you might isolate yourself from other employees at your business.
You may feel emotionally drained, anxious, or angry all the time if you’re experiencing burnout. Your relationships with friends and family might suffer because you don’t have the energy to nurture them anymore. But burnout can also lead to physical health issues such as high blood pressure. You might experience problems sleeping at night, feel fatigued, and start catching more colds. Stress and burnout can elevate the stress hormone cortisol, which can trigger or worsen all these symptoms. No job is worth sacrificing your health, so it’s important to take these signs seriously.
Problems at Home
Burnout can also affect your life at home. When you’re preoccupied with your job and experiencing negativity, you react differently to family members and friends. Sometimes family members are the first to notice that you’re experiencing burnout signs and symptoms. They may notice you’re more remote, angry, sad, or have emotional outbursts you didn’t have before.
Regaining Control: Treating Work Burnout
Burnout is different from depression and anxiety, but it has a similar effect on your life. It’s a feeling of emotional exhaustion, a total loss of interest in work and home life, and a sense of detachment from others.
Treatment for burnout often involves taking time off from work to recover. Many people can return to their positions once their symptoms have subsided, and they’ve had a chance to rest. Treating mild burnout and preventing future burnout could include more time spent on self-care.
If you’re experiencing burnout, take a closer look at your life. Are you taking on too much at work and at home? If you’re working a job and going to school simultaneously, you’re under more pressure than someone who only works a job. What other commitments are you dealing with in your life? It may be time to scale back on some of those obligations if you can.
Then take a closer look at what’s happening at work. Have a heart-to-heart talk with your boss and be honest. Tell your boss how burnout is affecting your productivity — both the quantity and quality of your work. Be specific about which tasks are giving you trouble, how much time it’s taking you to complete them, and any mistakes you’ve been making. Letting your boss know how burnout affects you will help them understand why you’re struggling and whether they can do anything to help. Your boss may recommend a short break from work.
Then let your family know about your struggles, so it’s out in the open. You should never struggle through burnout alone, and being honest about your struggles will help you get the help you need. If your job causes stress that can’t be fixed, it might be time to consider a new job or career.
- “16 Employee Burnout Statistics You Can’t Ignore.” 04 May. 2021, everyonesocial.com/blog/employee-burnout-statistics/.
- Jeung DY, Kim C, Chang SJ. Emotional Labor and Burnout: A Review of the Literature. Yonsei Med J. 2018 Mar;59(2):187-193. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2018.59.2.187. PMID: 29436185; PMCID: PMC5823819.
- Maslach C, Leiter MP. Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World Psychiatry. 2016 Jun;15(2):103-11. doi: 10.1002/wps.20311. PMID: 27265691; PMCID: PMC4911781.
- “Job burnout: How to spot it and take action – Mayo Clinic.” 05 Jun. 2021, mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642.
- Haffizulla FS, Newman C, Kaushal S, Williams CA, Haffizulla A, Hardigan P, Templeton K. Assessment of Burnout: A Pilot Study of International Women Physicians. Perm J. 2020 Sep; 24:1-5. doi: 10.7812/TPP/20.028. PMID: 33482938; PMCID: PMC7849283.