First-time login tip: If you're a REBA Member, you'll need to reset your password the first time you login.
09 Oct 2023

3 signs of workplace burnout – and what employers can do about it

The stress and anxiety that lead to burnout can be headed off if they are spotted early

3 signs of workplace burnout – and what employers can do about it.jpg


More than three-quarters (76%) of employees say they’ve experienced burnout, according to Gallup.

The World Health Organisation estimates that $1trn is lost worldwide in productivity each year as a result of depression and anxiety.

The danger is if organisations see employee burnout as an individual problem and fail to recognise the systemic factors that lead to it. Here, we highlight the early warning signs to look for and what HR teams can do systemically to combat them.

1. Low energy and declining performance

Employees who appear to suddenly lack motivation to do their job, and to do it well, may seem lazy. However, this can be a glaring sign of burnout, especially when you see it in your best workers.

Solution: train managers and offer flexible working

Nearly all employees (94%) feel their manager should have some responsibility for their wellbeing and 96% of managers agree, according to Deloitte.

That could be as simple as having regular 1:1 meetings with reports to encourage employees to feel safe to contact HR should they have any managerial issues.

Whats more, people have different productivity peaks throughout the day. Offering flexible schedules empowers employees to work when they’re most energised.

In a recent YouGov x YuLife survey, 60% of respondents said flexible working conditions were an important factor when choosing an employer. It can significantly boost morale, and productivity.

2. Frequent absences

Everybody needs a day off from time to time, but if it’s becoming the norm rather than the exception among some members of your workforce, it might be a sign of burnout.

Solution: encourage take-up of your wellbeing programme

A wellbeing programme that takes a proactive and preventative approach to physical and mental health and wellbeing will encourage better habits, reduce stress and boost overall health and happiness.

However, although many organisations have wellbeing programmes, many employees do not use it.

For example, offering a virtual employee assistance programme (EAP) that gives employees 365-days-a-year access to tailored support has become a staple in many a benefits package. However, although 14.7% of employees struggle with mental health, only 5% of UK employees have actually accessed their company’s EAP provider.

Whether it’s running an internal awareness campaign, or encouraging your leaders to model the behaviour by using the service and talking about it, implementation is only the first step.

3. Trouble with teamwork

If your typically collaborative employee has started to isolate themselves or is often at odds with colleagues, burnout might be the culprit. Interpersonal difficulties can be a sign that an employee is feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

Solution: promote work-life balance

How can you help your employees strike a balance between their work and personal lives?

Encourage managers to send messages only during work hours (if they are afraid of forgetting, encourage them to schedule their messages during their work hours) and confining their communication to internal messaging tools such Slack, rather than personal messaging channels like WhatsApp.

This should work in tandem with encouraging highly stressed employees to set personal boundaries – whether that is turning off their notifications past acceptable work-hours or having a conversation with their manager about when and how to communicate an urgent request on the weekend.

Besides publicly encouraging employees to set boundaries and prioritise self-care, it is important that personal boundaries are modelled by the leadership team. For example, leaders should set specific times to be off their computer to spend the time with family, or invite speakers into your organisation to talk about how they did it.

Leveraging the credibility of leaders can help your team and make it a collective, rather than individual responsibility.

This can go a long way in preventing burnout and fostering a healthier, happier team.

The importance of employee wellbeing

Employee wellbeing is not just a fancy buzzword. It is a critical component of a thriving, productive business. By creating a supportive work environment, implementing comprehensive wellbeing programmes and promoting a healthy work-life balance, you can keep your team engaged, motivated and burnout-free.

Ultimately, it's about creating a work culture that values and nurtures the human behind the employee. Because when your employees thrive, so does your business – it’s a win-win.

Related topics

In partnership with YuLife

YuLife is the first digital life insurance provider on a mission to inspire life.

Contact us today