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Signs of Burnout at Work and How to Avoid it

  • Publish Date: Posted 9 months ago

​Any job can make you feel stressed. But when it goes on for too long or becomes chronic, stress can lead to job burnout. And this could leave you with a wide range of negative outcomes.

In a previous post, we revealed that a third of employees complained of feeling burned out at work. Plus, over 60% of employees say they can spot at least five signs of burnout in themselves. But there is much more to job burnout than we realise which is why we’ve created this blog post. We want to help you recognise the symptoms of burnout so you can take action to address them before they escalate.

What is Job Burnout?

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It’s defined by the WHO as an occupational phenomenon and leads to a feeling of disengagement, depersonalization, and a reduction in performance.

When we’re stressed, our bodies activate a fight-or-flight mechanism in our nervous systems. This helps us stay focused on tasks and get things done. But prolonged or unhealthy stress can take a toll on the body’s resources and impact our health and productivity in negative ways.

When workers feel unable to manage their daily tasks it can impede their ability to do their work. And when it goes on for too long, stress can lead to job burnout.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Burnout You Should Watch Out for?

Several signs can reveal burnout at work. These include the following:

•Feeling exhausted and lacking energy

•Doubting yourself or taking longer to do things

•Coming across as critical or very cynical

•Reduced productivity and efficacy

•Increased consumption of food and alcohol

•Physical symptoms: Headaches, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, and many other physical symptoms that may not have been present before

What Are the Different Types of Burnout?

Types of burnout symptoms vary. But it can be easier to categorise them in the following ways:


Overloaded employees may have too much work on, feel excessive pressure, or that they’re pulled in too many directions. Feelings of overwhelm or exhaustion can reflect this type of burnout.


Employees can be under-challenged or feel unfulfilled in their roles. And this can lead to marked feelings of boredom and stress.


Staff members who focus on people pleasing or giving too much of themselves can feel drained. Also, employees who over socialise can start to feel burned out and drained.


Staff members who feel ignored or overlooked for too long can start to feel burned out. And, if their efforts aren’t acknowledged, it can lead to feelings of hopelessness.

What are the 5 Stages of Burnout?

There are various stages of burnout that can help to identify when this may be happening:

1.Honeymoon phase: In the honeymoon phase, employees come to work feeling enthusiastic and optimistic. They’ll be productive and take on as many tasks as they can. Also, they may display a sense of creativity and energy with a desire to prove themselves.

2.Onset of stress: People move to the next phase when they have more regular stress. Symptoms could include an inability to focus, persistent headaches, anxiety or changes in mood.

3.Chronic stress: If more stressful days outweigh less stressful days then employees will move into a phase of chronic stress. Employees may feel powerless and procrastinate or desire more acknowledgement for their efforts.

4.Burnout: With chronic stress, employees become exhausted and disillusioned. They may struggle to find ways of coping which could manifest in a variety of unusual ways. Physical symptoms will appear like indigestion, headaches, low mood and exhaustion.

5.Habitual: Habitual burnout is when all attempts to halt the effects of burnout haven’t worked. Employees may suffer from mental fatigue, depression or find their personal lives affected by stress.

What Causes Job Burnout?

According to a Gallup study, the top 5 reasons for job burnout include unfair treatment, unmanageable workloads, lack of clarity in a role, lack of support from a manager, and unreasonable time pressures.

Job Burnout Risks

So, what are the risk factors for job burnout? Managers and senior leaders may find it helpful to consider which factors may lead someone towards job burnout:

•Long hours

•Lack of control over work

•High-stress environments

•Helping or service-based professions

•Financial worries, home-schooling, or being a carer

•Managing physical health problems

•Work-life imbalance

•Feeling isolated

How to Prevent Job Burnout

Burnout is not a good outcome for employers or employees. And it can lead to missed hours, poor productivity, or long-term ill health.

But there are things you can do to avoid getting into this situation. Some of the most proactive steps you can take include:

Learn to Notice Your Stress

Managing stress starts with self-awareness. By understanding the root cause of your stress, you can start to make adjustments to your working life or bring in techniques to manage it better. Or, you can avoid certain stressful situations to keep your nerves healthy.

Focus on Self Care

Self-care can mean different things to different people. And this can be as simple as making sure you eat a healthy and supportive diet that includes plenty of B vitamins. B12 and B9, for example, are vital nutrients that support your nervous system when stressed. Plus, making sure you get regular exercise will release positive chemicals that can lift your mood and help you feel more positive.

Speak to Your Employer

If your self-managed stress isn’t cutting it then it may be time to have a meeting with your employer. Can they take on board your situation and make adjustments for you? This could be a temporary reduction of hours, moving to another team, or having some extended leave. Be honest with them about where you’re at. They may be more supportive than you thought.

Seek Help if You’re Suffering from Job Burnout

Job burnout is common and can lead to several negative effects both for employers and employees. But, by noticing the signs and symptoms early on, you can prevent reaching the job burnout stage and get back to being a productive and energized member of the team.

If you notice the signs of burnout, speak to your employer.

Alternatively, if you think you need a fresh start then contact our team - we’d love to hear from you. We have a friendly, knowledgeable team and may just have a job that fits your circumstances better. You deserve to go to work feeling positive and energised, so don’t hesitate to contact our specialist team for help.