Burnout in the workplace is a specific, work-related kind of stress that can lead to all kinds of problems if left unaddressed. Individuals suffering from burnout, often those working in very physically, mentally or emotionally demanding positions, will likely start failing to meet the demands of their role. Below are a few ways to identify workplace burnout and prevent it from happening. 

Burnout is more than just a busy workload 

Being a little stressed and anxious whilst deep in an important project is perfectly normal for most people. The key point is that for a healthy working life, these moments should be few and far between, and support should be available should they become overwhelming. If someone starts to feel more persistently run down, it’s crucial that you and they watch out for some of burnout’s common symptoms. 

Common symptoms of workplace burnout 

Sufferers may feel a sense of defeat or helplessness at work, or feel that they have nobody to confide in about workplace problems. Often, they’ll develop a highly cynical point of view about anything remotely work-related, or start to doubt their own abilities. This might lead to excessive procrastination and carelessness in their work. 
If someone works from home, the line between work and home life could blur, making it even harder to switch off. They might find themselves endlessly worrying about work during their free time, even struggling to sleep. 
Ultimately, sufferers of burnout likely have the horrible feeling of being completely drained (mentally and/or physically, depending on the role) and being overcome with dread before the start of each workday. Poor workplace performance will follow. 

Spotting the early signs of burnout 

Luckily, workplace burnout can be spotted early. Mental health professionals liken early signs of burnout to those of depression. The onset of bad habits like alcohol consumption, or an over-reliance on sugar and caffeine to get through the day, are often early indicators. Starting to feel persistently tired and having low energy, or perhaps avoiding social commitments, are also common. 
Then there’s the small slip-ups and mistakes sufferers might start to make, and an increasing sense of cynicism – perhaps they won’t even care that they made a mistake or become irritable if it’s highlighted by another member of staff. Sure, they could just be having an off couple of days, but if any of these signs start to become persistent, something probably needs to change. 

How can employers help? 

Employers can do a great deal to help identify and prevent workplace burnout. They can carry out stress risk assessments with employees to help identify causes of burnout and explore how to negate them, ideally carried out via frequent one-to-ones or more informal catchups. 
Additionally, mental health first aiders are increasingly common and helpful in the workplace, as are measures to generally increase awareness around mental health such as seminars and training sessions. The idea is to create an atmosphere where employees are more aware of issues like burnout, and where they feel more comfortable to ask for help and support each other. 
Employers should be willing and able to help employees struggling with excessive workloads or poor management, doing whatever they can to keep their staff happy and in good health. 

We're here to help 

If workplace burnout is affecting your business, it’s time to make strategic changes that will benefit your entire workforce. We’re always here to support business owners and offer practical advice, so make sure to call our Northern office on 01482 235575, our London office on 0207 885 0605 or fill in the contact form below. 
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