Dangers of Employee Burnout

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Businessman experiencing burnout

Many dangers of employee burnout exist. You may not realize exactly how severe your burnout is until something devastating happens. This is why it's important to recognize the dangers of employee burnout so you take it seriously and take steps to avoid it.

Understanding Employee Burnout

Employee burnout happens when a worker has experienced a stressful work environment for a long time without employing stress reduction techniques. The employee becomes overwhelmed and begins to fall behind mentally and physically. As this happens, the person has a difficult time concentrating and makes more mistakes. These errors can be dangerous to the employee experiencing burnout as well as other workers.

The Dangers of Employee Burnout

The following are examples of how employee burnout can be dangerous:

  • A nurse has worked 18-hour shifts for four days straight. She is exhausted and yearns to spend time with her family. She begins to dislike her job and takes shortcuts because she doesn't feel as though she should put much more effort into her work since she's already done so much. A patient of hers needs hourly checkups to ensure fluid levels are adequate. Since she has been so preoccupied with her disgust for having to work such long hours, she forgets to check on her patient. All of sudden, there is a code called on her patient and he is rushed to emergency care due to her negligence.
  • An industrial worker has been working double shifts to make enough money to support his family. With these double shifts, he has been unable to sleep during the night and has difficulty sleeping during the day. After a couple of weeks, the lack of sleep is catching up to him. He begins feeling depressed and uninterested in his job duties. After finishing a unit on one of the machines, he haphazardly forgets to turn it off and secure the safety latch. His co-worker uses the machine after him and endures a severe cut to his arm, which sends him to the emergency room.
  • An office manager has been working feverishly to meet deadlines. She has been staying late to do paperwork and driving to business meetings all day. After several weeks, she still can't get ahead. She feels frazzled and anxious. She gets into her car and begins to drive to a meeting. As she's thinking about all of the work she still has to do, she forgets about how fast she is going, collides into the car in front of her and kills the motorist.

These scenarios are common but there are extreme cases that make the news, such as a burnout employee coming into a workplace with the intention on harming other employees or executives.

Employee Burnout Dangers to Management

While all of the scenarios affect management, some effects of employee burnout directly cause issues for business executives.

  • Productivity: Employees who lack motivation in job duties will often work slower, which brings productivity down. As workers' productivity decreases, so does the overall functions of the business, this means fewer services or goods for consumers and less profit.
  • Sick time leave: Also affecting productivity, many employees who suffer from burnout get sick more often and may need to seek medical care or stay home to recuperate, which means more sick time leave is used throughout the year.
  • Increased errors: Employees who are not paying attention because of burnout will make more errors, which could mean a lower quality product and less profit over time.
  • Higher turnover rate: When some employees feel they are hopeless at their jobs, they start looking for less stressful jobs. When turnover is high, you lose manpower by having to look for new employees and training them. It also negatively affects the morale of your overall business as well as its reputation. Consumers regard companies highly when they see the same employees working there over time - it's the sign of a good business.

Avoiding Employee Burnout to Stay Safe

A reason why people experience burnout is that they neglect themselves and deplete their mental and physical energy to do their job. The best way to avoid employee burnout is to take steps to prevent it from happening. This means taking care of yourself and knowing your limitations. If you're unable to get a job done, it's important to ask for help by allocating tasks to others. If you're unable to do this, speak to your superior for an extension. When time management is the issue, make a priority list and schedule time for everything making sure you give yourself time for the unexpected or a break. If you have to work long hours, it's important that when you are not working you take care of your body and mind through sleep, exercise and having fun.

Dangers of Employee Burnout