Burnout Rages on in the Workplace

  • Corporate Culture
  • Employee Engagement
Dan Keough

I can’t help but notice the increase in the number of articles specific to burnout as of late.

In fact, according to recent study by Achievers, almost 85 percent of employees don’t think their company is doing enough to address the issue.

The Harvard Business Review also highlighted an article a few weeks ago called “How the Pandemic Exacerbated Burnout,” which had research highlighting that burnout is actually a workplace problem versus a worker problem. The article calls it a “mismatch” or a bad fit between an organization and its employees in one or more of the following areas:

  • Workers’ amount of control
  • Fair treatment
  • Sense of community
  • Workload levels
  • Rewards
  • Organizational values

In most cases employers and employees can work through these issues, but the last 12 months have put an entirely new level of stress on both.

So, what can we do to help our internal customers (our employees) and our external customers succeed in this seemingly never-ending issue we have to solve for? Can we recognize employees who might be showing signs of burnout?

I had a chance to ask ethOs President Ali Payne for ways to not only spot burnout, but also tips to help combat it. I wanted to share them with you.

Spotting the Signs of Employee Burnout

Signs of employee burnout are strikingly similar to signs of an employee who is lacking engagement. Here are several:

Quality of Work

Employees may be avoiding work, missing goals, or not performing the same quality of work.

Interest Levels

Employees aren’t interested in their work, team, company, or clients anymore.


Employees might stop caring about how they look or act on video conferences, or even what colleagues and leaders think of their contributions.

Time Off Issues

Monster.com researchers found that 59 percent of employees take less time off than normal now, and 42 percent don’t plan any time off for self-care. This is an issue.


Employees may get easily irritated by colleagues, family members, or any kind of interruption to their work. They may also get short, snappy, or downright rude with other people. On top of this, they may begin exhibiting some levels of hopelessness, worry, or sadness.


Employees might withdraw from the group in video conferences or any kind of remote work activities aimed to boost engagement.

Helping Employees with Burnout

Are there ways you, as an employer, can make an impact on burnout levels?

Here are some ideas from Ali.

Build Connections

Connecting with employees (or each other) 1 on 1 is the most important way to make an immediate impact.

Leave Judgement at the Door

Try to steer clear of judgement and telling them everyone is feeling this way that makes them feel less important.

Show Acknowledgment

Acknowledge the issue with employees on an individual level and help them figure out different ways to manage their workloads.

Show Recognition

Recognize employees for their efforts and offer your help. Roll up your sleeves if needed.

Be Open

Create a safe place for them to share their feelings.

Make an Impact Now

On average, employees are working 45 hours a week…that’s one more hour per workday. Some employees are working much longer than that. They’re also doing back-to-back calls and meetings, where typically they’ve had the ability to drive or walk to those, allowing for some time to destress. All of that adds up on the burnout scale.

We, as employers, have an opportunity right now to make a real impact on how we manage everything in the future.

One of the easiest ways to do this is simply to “check in,” and not just with our teams or someone in our department, but with those all around us.

I’ll end this blog with something Ali said, and it really resonated, “We might all be in this together, but we are each on our own journey and we need to recognize that in each other. There is no right or wrong way to deal with burnout. We can see the light at the end of the pandemic; but our world has changed, and we will continue to see change on how the world of work and life have collided.”

If you are currently dealing with employee burnout within your own organization, I encourage you to reach out to Ali and her ethOs team on the ethOs website or at info@yourethos.com.

They are well-versed in employee wellbeing and organizational engagement and would be happy to have a discussion with you!

April 5, 2021