Employee Burnout Causes and Solutions

Gabrielle Applebury
Nurses are at a high risk of employee burnout

Around 67 percent of full-time employees experience burnout. While some careers may foster higher levels of burnout, there are plenty of ways to prevent and remedy uncomfortable burnout symptoms.

Understanding Employee Burnout

Employee burnout can occur in almost any work environment. The key to avoiding burnout is to check in with yourself often and understand the core reasons for your specific burnout. Better understanding employee burnout can help you make the healthiest decisions possible when it comes to your career.

Causes of Burnout

Burnout can have several factors that present differently in individuals. Higher rates of burnout may be caused by:

  • Feelings of inadequacy at work
  • Feeling role-related confusion
  • Having unclear expectations or boundaries
  • Feeling unsafe in your work environment
  • Not enjoying your job
  • Not enjoying your coworkers
  • Feeling unfulfilled by your career
  • Struggling with your manager or boss
  • Experiencing communication related issues at work or having little to no feedback from your manager or boss
  • Having too much to do and unrealistic deadlines

Typical Symptoms of Employee Burnout

Burnout impacts everyone differently. You may notice:

  • Anxiety
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Trouble unwinding and sleeping
  • Feeling down about your career
  • Feeling overworked and exhausted
  • Making mistakes often
  • Not feeling appreciated in your role
  • Dreading work
  • Lacking motivation
  • Feeling stifled or nervous about speaking up
  • Getting sick often or unable to get over common illness due to high levels of stress
  • Feeling stressed more often than not at work

If your appetite, sleep habits, and overall mental health have significantly shifted, it is a good idea to speak with a counselor who can help you decrease these uncomfortable symptoms.

From an Upper Management Perspective

If you have direct reports, you may begin to notice some employee burnout. This may look like a lack of passion when it comes to a specific job, lots of personal days taken, high rates of employee turnover, and hesitation when it comes to speaking openly with you. This can feel stressful from an upper management point of view, but can be remediated if you can identify which factors are impacting your employees' burnout.

Why Some People Experience Burnout

Certain situations and factors lend themselves to burnout more than others. For example:

  • Career choice - Some careers lend themselves to high levels of burnout. This includes high intensity jobs like first responders, counselors, teachers, and customer service employees. Burnout can occur with demanding jobs that are customer facing, high pressure, and have long hours. While some people thrive in these environments, there are ways to prevent burnout from occurring even in these roles.
  • Personality - Burnout can be dependent on the type of personality an employee has and how much stress and pressure they can withstand.
  • Work culture - Burnout can also be impacted by employee-boss chemistry as well as company culture. Some people may have the proper background for a certain job, but not the right fit when it comes to company culture.

These are important factors to think about when hiring individuals or applying to certain jobs.

How to Work Through Your Burnout

If you truly hate going to work and can't stand your career, you can explore applying to other jobs that may be more intrinsically fulfilling. If this isn't an option and you're looking at staying at your current job for some time, you can try to:

  • Check in with yourself often, monitor your moods, and focus on a few small tasks at a time
  • Find healthy outlets for stress
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Download relaxation apps
  • Improve sleep hygiene
  • Clarify role and priorities with your manager or boss if comfortable doing so
  • Exercise and practice yoga for stress relief
  • Bring healthy snacks to work with you
  • Give yourself small breaks throughout the day
  • Stick to a schedule and reward yourself for small wins
  • Take breaks and head outside for a quick walk if weather permits
  • See a therapist who specializes in work related burnout
  • Create clear boundaries for yourself when it comes to work/life balance

How to Help Your Employees With Burnout

If you begin noticing some of your employees are experiencing burnout, take a proactive approach to help them feel their best. Employees who feel respected and taken care of in the workplace tend to do a better job and invest more time and energy into their careers. Employees who enjoy their careers, are given opportunities for growth, and have open lines of communication with their boss or managers tend to stick around at companies for longer periods of time as well. Investing in your employees' happiness is a great way to reduce turnover and create a healthy work environment. You can consider:

  • Investing in a health and wellness program
  • Offer them opportunities to give anonymous feedback regarding ways to improve the company
  • Seeking consultation when it comes to healthy employee/boss communication
  • Allowing growth opportunities and mentorships for employees
  • Creating intrinsic incentives by giving employees positive feedback and listening to their ideas and thoughts

Checking in With Yourself

Burnout can take a toll on your overall happiness. Whether you are experiencing burnout, or your employees are, finding appropriate ways to move through this challenging moment can help create a healthy work environment and increase your quality of life at work.

Employee Burnout Causes and Solutions