Signs of employee burnout

Signs of employee burnout syndrome refer to the chronification of work stress that gives rise to a feeling of general exhaustion or works stress a disease of modern societies. Burnout syndrome usually affects both the worker who suffers from it and their work environment. In this blog, we will try to cover topics such as Signs of employee burnout. Is burnout considered a mental illness? What does burnout feel like? How to recover from mental burnout and the consequences of suffering from burnout fatigue syndrome.

Burnout syndrome is manifested through a state of physical and mental exhaustion that lasts over time and comes to alter the personality and self-esteem of the worker. It is a process in which the worker progressively suffers a loss of interest in his tasks and develops a negative psychological reaction towards his job occupation.

Signs of employee burnout
Signs of employee burnout

It is the feeling that as a worker when he notices that his ideas do not fit too well with the company for which he works. According to OSHA, the burnt-out worker syndrome was identified to a greater extent in those professions that are related to dealing with the public and clients (also called social exposure).

However, it can occur in any occupation, since there is a greater risk of suffering from burnout syndrome when there is a great discrepancy between the worker’s job expectations and the reality of the tasks they face every day, or there is an environment work with excess tension, degraded and/or with labour relations manifestly conflictive.

Main Signs of employee burnout

Occupational burnout, also called burnout syndrome or syndrome of being burned at work, is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that is linked to the workplace, the stress caused by work and the employee’s lifestyle. It can have very serious consequences, both in the physical and psychological spheres.

Two of the most common symptoms are depression and anxiety, the reasons for the vast majority of sick leave. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized burnout as a disease in 2019, which will be included in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), whose entry into force has been set for January 1 of 2022.

The main signs of employee burnout syndrome are the following:

  1. General physical and mental exhaustion

The worker suffers a loss of energy at all health levels:

Signs of physical exhaustion: chronic fatigue, weight gain or loss of appetite. It can also be reflected in the appearance of psychosomatic disorders such as muscle pain, migraines, gastrointestinal problems and, in the case of women, dysregulation of the menstrual cycle.

Signs of mental exhaustion: Stress and anxiety are the main protagonists that precede burnout syndrome. What’s more, burnout feeds on both, as well as being related to the appearance of adjustment disorders, related to stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

  1. Depersonalization and cynicism

Burnout produces a change in the behaviour of the worker who suffers from it. He adopts an attitude of indifference and detachment, clearly reducing his commitment to work. This is also manifested in their relationships in the workplace, both with colleagues and with clients.

Irritability and harshness of treatment become common patterns in the behaviour of a burnt-out worker, customers, users or people with whom they interact perceive this change in attitude, but also the family and their social environment…

  1. Decrease in labour productivity and demotivation

The two previous points lead to a drop in labour productivity and demotivation that generates frustration and shows a lack of personal fulfilment at work. There is a lack of attention to the tasks, frequent forgetfulness and general neglect that arises from the difficulty to concentrate.

Other Signs of employee burnout are:

  • The feeling of exhaustion,
  • Failure and helplessness.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Little personal fulfilment.
  • Low performance.
  • Work absenteeism.
  • Impatience and irritability.
  • Poor communication.

Is burnout considered a mental illness?

Is it a psycho-emotional ailment? Yes, and it can even be considered to be part of mental health disorders. The main difference between burnout and stress is that stress is not always negative; on many occasions, it allows us to be more effective, react better, and perform more”.

On the other hand, burnout syndrome, which is “a continuous mismatch between the physical and mental demands and capacities of the organism”, is always negative.

Signs of employee burnout
Signs of employee burnout

It is considered a psycho-emotional ailment because it causes symptoms such as:

  • Constant emotional exhaustion.
  • Feeling frustrated with work.
  • The lack of self-esteem and feeling that your talent is being wasted.
  • The permanent state of nervousness.
  • Difficult to focus.
  • Aggressive behaviours.

What does burnout feel like?

Your well-being at work directly depends on how you feel. This syndrome entails that you bet on isolation and negative behaviours towards your colleagues. The employee who is continuously exposed to, among others, high levels of stress, excessive workload, little autonomy, poor relationships at work and lack of support in their environment. In these cases, it is likely that:

  • You constantly think about leaving your job.
  • A rotation occurs so that you can see if you are a better fit in another department.
  • Confirm your dissatisfaction with your company and with the working conditions you have to endure daily.
  • You don’t have any kind of motivation to go to work.

Burnout syndrome causes

Burnout syndrome is the result of different causes. It usually arises when personal risk factors coincide (low tolerance for frustration, exposure to stress, or stressful life circumstances such as caring for the sick, serious illnesses, losses, etc.) and those related to the organization (gaps in assigned tasks to the job, oversizing of functions and responsibilities, complicated work environment, failures in leadership in the company, sustained work overload, healthcare pressure, lack of support and resources, etc…).

So it can be divided into two large groups. Still, it is common for both aspects to exert their influence at the same time: Therefore, at the origin, there are usually excessive demands that cause tensions. But there are also several risk factors:

Personal factors

Everything will depend on how you tolerate frustration and how you regulate stress. Your circumstances also have an impact, especially if you take care of a sick person or try to overcome the death of a family member or your partner, to name a few examples.

All workers have expectations regarding their work activity that often do not conform to daily reality and cause the adaptation to that reality to occur more slowly. Individuals with low self-esteem and excessive perfectionism are also more prone.

Factors related to the company

The starting point is usually the lack of definition of the characteristics of your job and your obligations. Likewise, it is possible that your responsibility will increase and that you will have to take care of aspects that are not related to your position. An excessively tense work environment and a lack of support from your company can contribute to your feeling that you don’t know what to do.

Situations such as excessive bureaucratization without specific support, lack of time to organize tasks (which leads to the worker never leaving on time and having to take work home), as well as not contemplating replacements due to temporary leave can increase the costs of stress levels and, in the long run, lead to burnout.

Dealing with employee burnout

Preventive measures against burnout syndrome are similar to those necessary to manage situations of work stress. If we analyze, evaluate and protect the worker with symptoms of burning, we can avoid damage to health and recover an efficient, motivated and healthy worker, so that the entire work, the social and family environment will benefit from it.

Signs of employee burnout
Signs of employee burnout

Prevention is possible and the risk can also be prevented, minimized and eliminated, that is our mission. Denying what you feel only helps the problem become chronic and you end up leaving your job. Asking for help is the best alternative to redirect your feelings and, above all, so that you can enjoy your work again.

Yes, and in fact, they should be included in your company’s occupational risk prevention policy. The process is the following:

  • Give the worker the opportunity to express himself freely and without retaliation about what has caused him to feel bad.
  • If the working conditions cannot be changed or reviewed, it is appropriate that you request relocation to another position to see if your feelings improve.
  • Psychological support is essential to check if the changes are effective. It is advisable to correct the possible habits acquired and that facilitate the adaptation to your new position.
  • Check the work, personal and social environment to receive the necessary help.
  • Prevention of burnout syndrome must start at the employee’s company. The first measure to be taken is to evaluate the situations that generate stress and anxiety in the worker and make the appropriate decisions and measures to try to reduce them.
  • To do this, you must improve the organization and provide the necessary tools so that the worker can perform their tasks properly and not have so much work overload.
  • In addition, the worker can acquire an assertive attitude, establishing a communication relationship, without arguing, or submitting to the will of the rest of the colleagues and defending their convictions.

Healthcare burnout prevention

The diagnosis of burnout syndrome is made in a medical consultation based on the symptoms, the emotional state and the feelings of the person towards his work and other personal commitments.

Signs of employee burnout
Signs of employee burnout

Recovering from burnout often takes time and good support. Psychological therapy can be useful to identify the causes of stress and find strategies to improve or avoid them. To recover from burnout, it is also important to take time to rest and reenergize yourself outside of work by doing enjoyable activities, seeking support from family and friends, exercising, etc.

Since burnout develops over a long period, it’s important to watch for the telltale signs of increasing stress and react to them early. Affected individuals may find that setting clear boundaries at work, adopting healthy habits (such as regular meal times and exercise), and seeking coping strategies can help prevent future episodes. Preventing burnout can sometimes be an ongoing process, so it’s important to identify trusted sources of emotional support.

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To diagnose the syndrome, specialists have to know the symptoms of the pathology and carry out a clinical interview with the employee that allows them to find out if there is a suspicion of suffering from the disease. In addition, it is convenient for the professional to know what his situation is like within the company and how the work is organized.

The most widely used is the Maslach scale or Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) for preventing employee burnout, it consists of 22 statements and questions about feelings and thoughts about the interaction with work, which is valued in a range of 6 adjectives ranging from “never” to “daily”, depending on the frequency with which each of the situations described in the items is experienced.

They are grouped into three subscales, one for each of the components of the burnout syndrome.

The scores of each subscale should be kept separate and not combined into a single score, because if they were combined, it would not be possible to determine in which area the patient is most affected. Regarding the result, both the burnout construct and each of its dimensions are considered continuous variables, and the scores of the subjects are classified using a percentile system for each scale for burnout syndrome recovery.


Who suffer from burnout syndrome (it can even cause suicide in the most serious cases), so it is vital to understand it to prevent and treat it. Burnout syndrome is characterized because it is a process that grows progressively if measures are not taken to prevent it.

Frustration will begin to be constantly present, you will remain in a continuous state of exhaustion, and the symptoms may evolve into more severe states. In some cases, workers may abuse psychotropic drugs, alcohol and drugs.

Burnout syndrome can be treated. Although minor changes can have a positive impact, sometimes it is necessary to take more drastic measures such as changing jobs or giving up on certain goals. By receiving support, many people begin to feel good quickly. However, if left untreated, burnout increases the risk of developing psychiatric disorders and physical problems in the future.

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One response to “Signs of employee burnout”

  1. Dave Avatar

    very informative, go ahead

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