3 Warning Signs Your Employees Are Suffering Burnout

Signs of Employee Burnout

Increasing Employee Morale While Decreasing Fatigue at Work

Times are tough for workers across all industries. While unemployment is still high, it’s not just those searching for a job who are feeling the stress. Certainly unemployed job seekers have a lot on their plate: searching for jobs, endless applications, recording a video resume, and preparing for interviews are just some of their most common stresses. Those who already have jobs, however, are also feeling the stress.

According to a new survey from ComPsych, more current employees are suffering burnout. In fact, 63 percent said they have high levels of stress in the workplace. It’s certainly not hard to envision why. With the looming and ever-present threat of layoffs, staff cutbacks, and piling workloads it would be stranger to find out employees weren’t stressed.

Burnt out employees, unsurprisingly, aren’t top-notch workers. If your workforce is burning out and stressing out, you’re less likely to hear great ideas and develop new innovative ways to tackle problems. Your employee morale will head down the tubes, and with it the company culture you’ve worked so hard to develop. The best candidates will start overlooking your open positions if your company seems like the kind of place employees are miserable to go to every day.

Signs of Employee Burnout

How do you save your company from this fate? First, you need to be able to spot the warning signs of employee burnout. Here are some signposts you should pay attention too, before your workforce gets too far down the path to burnout: 

Your employees are present in body but not in mind
One of the biggest findings from the ComPsych survey was that 22 percent of employees ranked being present at work as more important than getting tasks accomplished and improving performance. This was a 47 percent increase since the survey began back in 2003. Many employees now seem to think it’s more important to be physically present in the office than to develop their skills.

Your organization needs more than a warm body sitting in a cubicle, you need the skills and ideas of your best employees. If workers are so burnt out that they appear to be showing up for work and checking out mentally, this is a problem. Perhaps you might need to get your employees together for a morale boost or a team project. It’s important to get your workers engaged with the company again so they’re turning in their best work, instead of just turning up for work. 

Your workers have become way more chatty
Workplace chatter isn’t a bad thing and can actually help build a better culture and boost morale. A little watercooler chat about what happened last night on American Idol might be just what coworkers need to bond together as a team. However, if you notice the amount of chatter going up a few decibel levels, you might have a problem.

According to the survey, 53 percent of workers are taking “stress breaks” to go talk with coworkers. Workers who are feeling overwhelmed by the workload, whether it’s putting together a big project or sorting through video resumes, might use a quick chat as a diversion from their stress levels. If many of these chats seem to be occurring around the office throughout the day, you might want to consider whether your office has become much more friendly or much more burned out. 

Work fatigue 
Have you noticed your former superstar employee seems to be shining less brightly? This might be because they’re being crushed under the weight of their workload. Thirty-nine percent of employees cite the size of their workload as their number one stressor in the office.

Employees who are constantly under the gun and struggling to keep up with an unwieldy workload aren’t going to be able to bring you outside-the-box ideas. It will be all they can do to keep up with what’s currently on their plate. These workers might have once been superstar workers, but you’re burning up their talent in your work supernova.

Make sure to give these workers as much assistance as possible. This might mean scheduling some video interviews to hire additional help or just sharing the workload amongst more people. Whatever you do, don’t let your best employees drown in a sea of work.

Disengaged Workforce & Employee Turnover Costs

Employee burnout isn’t just bad for workers, it’s also bad for your company. Disengaged workers costs US companies $350 billion a year.  If you look out for the warning signs and develop an employee retention strategy, however, you can avoid watching your best employees go up in smoke.

What are some warning signs you’ve noticed of employee burnout? Share in the comments!

Posted in ,


Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

Reader Interactions


  1. Lizzie says

    Josh, this is touching on a personal topic for me.

    I’m extremely satisfied and engaged in my job … actually, forget those buzzwords — I’m HAPPY. I love my job.

    My husband is a graphic designer (read: unique and creative) and he works somewhere where the art department staff is treated like factory workers. They aren’t allowed to take PTO, 30-minute lunches (despite being salaried) and a trillion other ridiculous restrictions have turned him against his job. He can’t stand it there. And they don’t care. They build high turnover into their operating costs and they pay their design team as little as possible while expecting outstanding creative accomplishments.

    The people he sees there that are the happiest are the people who lower their own standards … close their mind off for a day … and just work through it. They like the job, the stability, etc. and they just disengage from it in order to like it.

    I don’t know.

    There are a lot of companies and managers who make no effort to turn around the disengagement trend … despite the proven results of having an engaged team.

    The more I dip into the HR world, the more I think everyone’s starting to figure this out … but step outside of it — and it’s clear that there are just a lot of early adopters with megaphones.

  2. JoshTolan says

    Lizzie, thanks so much for the great comment!

    Sadly, companies like your husband’s are all too common. They don’t realize that the most important thing to increase work productivity is to treat employees like people instead of clogs in a machine.

    When companies fail to see people, they disengage workers. This leads to less productivity, less creativity, and higher turnover. No company should want to constantly be interviewing someone for the same position. By engaging with employees on an actual human level and appreciating contributions, workers will be less likely to burn out. Better yet, like yourself, workers will actually be happy to show up for work in the morning because they love their job.

    • Jill says


      I absolutely love your comment. I work full time doing HR and Payroll so I have double duty. I have even more of a workload then ever and the bosses just don’t see it or they just don’t care. I will settle for the latter of the two. I am one of those burned out, way underpaid employees. I despise getting up for work and despise it even more when I am here at work. If I could leave my job today, I would.

      I have been looking for other employment, but as you know, jobs are scarce and a lot of companies are going out of business. We have our government to thank for that one.

      So this is what I did. I come to work, I do what needs to be done for the day, I don’t go above and beyond anymore.



Pin It on Pinterest