Is Your Team Burned Out? How to Know and What to do

It’s hard being a manager! Not only is it your responsibility to do your own work, but you’re also in charge of making sure other people do theirs (not to mention developing your team!). We know that keeping your team motivated and energized is no easy task. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, employees may be experiencing burnout—a state of feeling totally drained and overwhelmed by work stress.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the signs of burnout in employees so you can spot them early on. By understanding these signs, you’ll be better equipped to support your team and create a happier, healthier workplace where everyone can thrive.

Seven Signs of Burnout in Employees:


1. Running on Empty

You’ll notice a decline in productivity and output, missed deadlines, or a general lack of enthusiasm and focus.

2. MIA Employees

Your employees are taking more time off, calling in sick frequently, or using vacation days to get caught up on work, rather than taking a real break.

3. Emotional Rollercoaster or Flat Affect

Look for signs of emotional exhaustion, like mood swings, irritability, or complete lack of emotion.

4. Pain in the Neck

You may notice an increase in physical challenges, such as complaints of headaches, stomachaches, constant fatigue, sleep issues.

5. Phoning it in

Employees are mentally checked out, showing less interest in work-related activities, meetings, or collaboration with the team.

6. Chronic Negativity

A gray cloud prevails, with more criticism, cynicism, or pessimism about their work, colleagues, or the organization.

7. Oops!

More frequent mistakes, missed details, or a drop in the quality of work could be a sign that burnout is taking a toll.

What are the stages of burnout?

It’s important to be aware of the stages of burnout that your employees may experience. By recognizing these stages, you can take proactive steps to address burnout and support your team’s well-being. Here are the four stages of burnout:

• Stage 1: The Honeymoon Phase

In this initial stage, employees may be highly motivated, enthusiastic, and committed to their work. They are driven and eager to tackle new challenges. However, without proper work-life balance and stress management, this phase can quickly transition to the next stage.

• Stage 2: Onset of Stress

As work demands increase, employees start to feel overwhelmed and stressed. They may experience anxiety, irritability, and difficulties in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and insomnia may also appear. If not addressed, this stage can progress to more severe burnout.

• Stage 3: Chronic Burnout

At this stage, employees experience a significant decline in their mental, emotional, and physical well-being. They may feel exhausted, cynical, and detached from their work. Motivation and productivity decrease, and they may start to question the value and meaning of their job. It’s crucial to intervene at this stage to prevent further deterioration.

• Stage 4: Habitual Burnout

In the final stage, burnout becomes deeply ingrained in an employee’s life. They may feel emotionally and physically depleted, often experiencing a complete loss of interest and motivation. Their performance and relationships at work and home are severely affected. Without intervention and support, employees may consider leaving their job or face serious health consequences.

As a manager, being attentive to these stages of burnout allows you to detect early warning signs and provide the necessary support and resources. By fostering a culture of well-being, open communication, and work-life balance, you can help your employees navigate the stages of burnout and maintain their overall mental and emotional health.


What can managers do to reduce employee burnout?

Recognizing burnout is one thing, and addressing it is another. Prevention is generally the best way to go, as employees who are already burned out may need some time off to rest and truly recover. In the meantime, here are four ways employers can take action towards burnout prevention:

1. Provide personalized recognition

Create a recognition program that acknowledges and appreciates employees’ efforts in ways that resonate with them. This could include personalized notes, public shoutouts, or small tokens of appreciation based on individual preferences. The Languages of Appreciation approach can be helpful in understanding how each person operates differently.

2. Skills Development Opportunities

Offer employees opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge through workshops, training programs, or mentoring. By investing in their professional growth, you show that you value their development and well-being.

3. Flexible Time Off

Provide employees with the flexibility to take time off when they need it. Encourage them to use their vacation days and promote a healthy relationship with work, demonstrating that their well-being is a priority. Make sure to be a good role model for this yourself!

4. Provide more frequent, but brief check-in opportunities

By identifying the signs of burnout and maintaining open lines of communication, employers can address any challenges or concerns early on, preventing them from escalating and contributing to burnout. If you’re worried about an employee, let them know, and have an honest conversation about it. Give them plenty of space to talk and share their thoughts during the conversation.


Written by Ariela Freedman


Interested in talking more about how to prevent burnout on your team? Let’s talk.

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