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Recognizing the Symptoms of Burnout

As a leader, one of the most important things you can do for your team is provide them with a work environment where burnout is taken seriously—and where appropriate, preemptive measures are in place to avoid it.

A good starting point is to simply recognize the signs of burnout. Burnout is not just a feeling of overwhelming stress; that’s just the new norm. Burnout is something more pervasive and longer lasting.

Do You Know the Signs of Burnout?

It manifests in different ways for different people—but there are a few signs and symptoms of burnout that are fairly common.

  1. Exhaustion. Again, it’s important to make a distinction: Everyone experiences fatigue at some time during their work week. It is when you observe continued physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion, that there may be a sign of burnout.
  2. Lack of motivation. The employee who’s struggling with burnout probably won’t have much pep in their step; they may have a hard time summoning the enthusiasm to do anything more than the bare minimum. When employees are simply coasting through their work, it’s often burnout-related.
  3. Irritability.Burnout makes every little problem or inconvenience seem more frustrating. Those with irritability can be categorized as bitter or intolerant and may sometimes have a short fuse – they may even snap at the people around them.
  4. Cognitive problems. Burnout saps mental ability and can manifest as a slip in work performance—poor quality, missed deadlines, or more frequent mistakes are clear signs there is an issue.
  5. Unhealthy coping methods. Those who are dealing with burnout may try to self-medicate, which can look like smoking, drinking, eating too much junk food, or staying up late watching TV or playing games instead of getting sufficient rest.
  6. Preoccupation. Finally, an insidious form of burnout is being preoccupied with work—even when you’re not at work. Employees who descend into a “workaholic” mindset, neglecting work-life balance, may have burnout to blame for it.

Avoid Burnout. It Starts with Awareness

Typically, burnout isn’t something that affects just one employee. It’s usually cultural and systemic—so if you have one employee exhibiting these signs, it’s worth gauging whether others might be struggling in similar ways.

Be ready to recognize what burnout looks like—and if you have employees who struggle with it, help them seek the assistance they need. Consider evaluating your workplace culture, as burnout can be associated with organizational dysfunction!

There are many effective methods to alleviate the symptoms of burnout and provide a productive work culture. Reach out to Loeb Leadership Development Group to learn more.