Also known as job burnout, employee burnout is when an employee becomes exhausted at work. It usually happens because employees put in excessive work hours, while dealing with constant stress and pressure at work. Employee burnout, if left unmanaged, will eventually lead to decreased productivity, performance, and happiness. Also, the employee’s mental health may deteriorate considerably, leading to other serious issues. It’s important to address employee burnout early enough to help prevent the risk of escalating the symptoms. In this article, we’ll share the signs of burnout in your workplace that lead to emotional exhaustion, physical symptoms, and poor mental health.

10 Signs of Burnout in the Workplace

1. Constant Exhaustion

Exhaustion is probably one of the easiest methods for detecting signs of burnout in your workplace. In this case, the employee will constantly complain about feeling fatigued or tired.

Work pressure, time pressure, and lack of adequate support in the workplace will leave employees with more work than they can handle. Consequently, they may find it hard to rest and relax adequately at the end of the day. Often, they’ll take their work stress home with them.

Some employees may even be asked to take work home to beat some tight deadlines. And when this happens, employees may find it difficult to enjoy quality sleep at night. The lack of adequate sleep will eventually lead job burnout.

So, if you happen to come across an employee complaining about tiredness all the time, it’s highly likely they are suffering from burnout. Encourage paid time off to them. Help them maintain more work-life balance by not contacting them after hours. And recommend resources to them that the company pays for, to help with emotional exhaustion and work-related stress.

signs of burnout

2. Reduced Productivity

One of the signs of burnout is that employees will always be playing catch-up. For instance, they will miss important deadlines or submit projects late. Also, they may end up performing below their usual levels.

So, if you notice a dip in projects completed or sales, it may be a sign that the employees responsible may have burned out. And if this issue keeps happening, it will eventually lead to severe productivity issues.

With this in mind, if one of your top-performing or hardest-working employees has suddenly started underperforming, submitting work late, or finding it hard to cope with the current work demands, it may be a sign that they are completely burned out.

And regardless of how much they may try to work hard, they may find it hard to go back to the levels they are used to before the burnout issue has been resolved. Hence, reduced productivity is yet another means of how to detect signs of burnout in your workplace.

Consider the physical and emotional health of employees to increase productivity. By investing in their care, they’ll be at their best to invest in your business.

3. Decreased Quality of Work

Besides reduced productivity, employee burnout can also contribute to reduced quality of work. Making mistakes occasionally is acceptable, and it can happen even to the most focused employees. However, if it keeps happening, it may be a sign of burnout in your workplace.

When workers burn out, they may find it extremely hard to concentrate or focus. Also, memory loss or difficulty remembering things may occur. As a result, they may begin making mistakes repeatedly. And as you may probably know, repeated errors from one individual will eventually affect the entire organization’s performance.

So, if you have observed that a particular employee has suddenly begun making repeated mistakes, which wasn’t the case before, it may be a sign of burnout. And you should pay closer attention to burnout symptoms like that, instead of thinking it will take care of itself. Workplace burnout will affect the quality of work.

work-related stress

4. Increased Absenteeism

Increased employee absenteeism is yet another simple method to detect signs of burnout in your workplace. As earlier mentioned, employee burnout can lead to adverse health issues. For instance, it will lead to stress, exhaustion, and depression, to name a few.

And with time, these issues may eventually cause cardiovascular diseases, frequent headaches, stomach issues, dizziness, heart palpitations, and an increase in colds and flu. However, an employee’s absenteeism rate will gradually increase due to the above health issues.

Also, some employees may intentionally miss work to avoid projects, which may be causing them stress. Furthermore, some may come to work late and leave earlier than usual. And this will affect the organization’s overall output.

When people feel work-related stress, they tend to avoid work because they don’t have the mental energy for it. Creating a positive work environment will be key for helping people manage their burnout symptoms and help them find more work-life balance.

A strong immune system, healthy diet, and good environment will help decrease absenteeism. But it boils down to the culture you create at your company, not the employee who works at it.

5. Sudden Irritability

Employee burnout will eventually lead to stress and lack of proper sleep. And studies show that both anxiety and inadequate sleep can cause irritability. And once an employee becomes irritable, they will find it hard to get along with their colleagues, supervisors, or managers at the workplace.

And if such an employee happens to be part of a team, they will slow down everyone else. Again, this will affect the organization’s productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Therefore, as much as irritability may appear as something unexpectedly, it may yet be another sign of burnout in your workplace. And as an HR or business leader, you shouldn’t ignore it. Instead, you should strive to find the underlying cause of it and not brush it off.

People who struggle with mental health will often experience sudden irritability. Offer resources to make the workplace more enjoyable for irritable employees, make them feel appreciated and part of the team, and support them to make this a temporary and fixable problem.

burnout signs

6. Cynicism

Cynicism can be another sign of burnout in your workplace. And when employees become cynical, they may no longer have the passion for their job. They may also become angry toward their coworkers, clients, or supervisors.

For instance, the employee may begin complaining about the clients they are working with or even start speaking negatively about the company. Also, they may become more aggressive, argumentative, and combative. You may also notice that such employees are no longer open to feedback. However, keep in mind that often employees who dislike feedback are getting too much negative feedback, consider doing things to make them feel appreciated first.

Furthermore, employees with a cynical attitude may become self-centered, insensitive, and irritable. They may also lose trust in their coworkers and supervisors, making it hard to work with them.

Cynicism can spread fast within an organization, leading to reduced productivity levels, low morale, and reduced personal achievements. And all these will eventually affect the organization’s bottom line.

Cynicism often arises when demands are too high, layoffs are constant, and the culture shifts towards negativity. You may be more likely to experience burnout due to this as well. So consider recommending a mental health professional to your employees to combat cynicism.

7. Detachment from the Company

Burned-out employees may also begin detaching or isolating themselves from the company. Hence, it provides yet another way to detect signs of burnout in your workplace. For instance, they may stop attending company events like team building and expos. They may also unfollow their company on social media due to losing interest.

Even if they may continue attending work-related meetings, they may be physically there but mentally absent. And this can be evident in their lack of contribution or participation in the meeting.

Also, you may notice that the employee has not implemented the points discussed during the meeting since they were not mentally present. All these are clear signs that the employee has detached themselves from the company.

And while the organization may throw some perks to the employee, such as gift cards, paid vacations, or care packages, these are temporary fixes. Eventually, the employee may quit the job since no one in leadership has addressed the root issue of their burnout. If someone is feeling physical symptoms or struggling with emotional challenges at work that causes them to detach, you can’t offer bandaid solutions to fix their problems.

8. Isolation from Colleagues

Formerly outgoing, sociable, and friendly workers may suddenly start isolating themselves from everyone at work. And this may happen due to stress in their personal lives, or they may simply go through a rough patch.

However, if this isolation continues for several weeks or months, or if a formerly extroverted employee is constantly angry or combative whenever their colleagues try to speak to them, or they may start turning down favorite activities with their colleagues, it may be an indicator of a bigger underlying issue such as work burnout.

However, it will be hard to use this method if you are managing a virtual team. When dealing with a virtual team, it’s tough to detect isolation. In such a situation, you will have to rely on the other methods discussed here to determine the signs of burnout in your workplace.

Be sure to encourage employees to take time to invest in their well being if they become isolated from coworkers. Chronic stress needs to be dealt with, so that people can feel more connected to others.

9. Loss of Confidence

While it may not manifest itself clearly as the others, loss of confidence may also signify employee burnout. Therefore, it’s also an effective method of detecting signs of burnout in your workplace. For example, if a worker suddenly seems to have lost complete confidence in their work, it could be a subtle sign they are experiencing burnout.

For instance, an employee may start telling their friends that they have a feeling that the supervisor will reject their work. Also, they may become highly uncertain about their performance at work.

And this loss of confidence may also manifest in the employee’s personal life. For example, they may begin feeling disliked, unwanted, or incompetent. As a result, they may lose trust in their close associates and discontinue any social connections.

The warning signs of burnout are always clear. You’ll see employees using coping strategies to combat confidence issues. The main thing to do is provide compassion, emotional support, and praise to keep employee morale high.

loss of confidence

10. Home Life Issues

Sometimes burnout symptoms have nothing to do with work. Sometimes people have mental exhaustion from the problems in their personal life. Asking about family members during 1:1 meetings can provide context into their stress levels. If you notice physical signs, such as feeling tired or showing up late to work it possible their personal problems affect their sleep. You can also look for emotional signs of frustation to understand the situation.

You might recommend strategies to try with a family member or friend. Or share wellness tips to help them cope with difficult home situations. By providing emotional support, you can make their workplace a safe space as they deal with personal issues before it escalates.


Employee burnout will leave the individual feeling disinterested and disengaged. Also, they will perform poorly at work. Furthermore, burnout can considerably affect the employee’s mental and physical health. At the same time, employee burnout will lead to decreased productivity, poor performance, higher healthcare costs, and high attrition rates, affecting the organization’s bottom line and ruining the brand’s reputation. Therefore, if you are an HR professional or business leader, you should watch out for the employee burnout signs outlined in this article. From there, you should take the necessary action to avoid serious consequences.