3 Signs of Employee Burnout: Bad Employees vs. Unmotivated Employees


Employee burnout is an interesting phenomena that can occur within any organization at any level. Our understanding of motivation, performance management, and compensation has developed rapidly in recent years. Thus, we are now capable of better assessing and adjusting employee experiences. Undoubtedly, employee burnout is as old as labor itself, but until recently has been mislabeled as, “being a poor employee.” Here are four signs that an employee has crossed the threshold of exhaustion:


An Increase in Illnesses:


Our number one sign of employee burnout is possibly the most mysterious. Simply put, exhausted employees begin to wear and feel their symptoms (fatigue, pallor, lost focus, etc). These employees feel under the weather and logically assume that they are ill based off the symptoms they are experiencing. They miss work, rest in bed, take cold/flu remedies, schedule doctor appointments, and completely overlook the source of the issue...what their workday consists of.


Heightened Sensitivity:


Often described as, “wearing your nerves on the outside,” these employees become incredibly difficult to manage. Coaching is critical to solid performance management and employee development. Employee’s experiencing burnout can react in an extremely negative fashion when given the slightest degree of criticism. We often believe that these individuals simply do not take accountability for their actions and in turn begin to close off their career opportunities.


Self Isolation / Disengagement:


These individuals do not seem like they want to be part of the organizational family. I have especially struggled with employees that did not want to participate in group activities and projects within the work space. I train managers to go above and beyond to improve the experiences of their subordinates and celebrate the team. It can be extremely disheartening for a manager to go way out of their way for a subordinate, just to have their efforts rebuffed at every corner.


What Can we do as Managers?


  • Constantly check-in with your subordinates. This will grant you greater insight on the employee’s performance, as well as making them feel as if they are top of mind.


  • Regularly review the arrangement of job tasks. Nothing fosters burnout quite like redundancy, do your best to bring team members aboard new projects, endeavors, and processes.


  • Create a forum in which employees can communicate with management and give feedback. You want your employees to feel as though they have a say in business operations, and as successful companies have learned...innovation does not always come from the top of an organization.


  • Get in the habit of learning about your subordinates (hobbies, goals, aspirations). Having an in-depth understanding of your team will assist you in identifying changes.



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Michael Chiovitti, Chief Talent Strategist

Eden Resources, LLC