Employee Burnout: 5 Subtle Warning Signs You Could be Missing

Posted by Neopath Health on Aug 9, 2022 9:00:00 AM

Until recently, employee burnout was something that lurked in the shadows. Most employees didn’t talk about it if it was happening to them. And most companies didn’t openly acknowledge if it was happening on their team. But with the rise in mental health awareness brought on by the pandemic, that’s changing. 

Now, more companies are looking for ways to offer whole-person wellness programs that include options for mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, and burnout.

Amid The Great Resignation, this shift is both timely and necessary. Consider that McKinsey & Company reports that almost half of all employees report being at least somewhat burned out. If you’re an employer wanting to address this mental health epidemic, you can start by learning more about burnout and how it impacts your team. 

The World Health Organization’s official definition of burnout includes three components:

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion 
  2. Increased mental distance from, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and
  3. A sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

While this definition offers some basics to watch for, burnout symptoms can vary widely among employees, making it harder to identify within your team or department. Plus, you don’t want to wait until an employee exhibits all these symptoms to act. The following are five subtle warning signs of employee burnout you could be missing.

Employee Burnout Sign #1: Missing important deadlines

Pay close attention when otherwise strong performers start getting less done, procrastinating on critical tasks, or missing important deadlines. These can all indicate that an employee is overwhelmed and headed for burnout. Especially when people are used to achieving at a high level, missing important deadlines can be distressing and add to their feelings of ineffectiveness.

Employee Burnout Sign #2: Having less patience

Similarly, when employees who are usually relaxed and affable begin expressing frustration, are more irritable, or have less patience than usual, you may want to check in with them. While easy to brush this off as general frustration, these can also be signs of workplace stress that’s not being managed.

Employee Burnout Sign #3: Being less social

Not all employees are chatty on Zoom calls or the first to suggest a team happy hour. But when you notice someone who’s usually social in the workplace starts to withdraw from others, skip out on team lunches or disconnect during critical conversations, you may be seeing early signs of burnout. We recommend you especially take note if an employee used to enjoy these activities but no longer does. 

Employee Burnout Sign #4: Making more mistakes

We’re all human, and mistakes happen. But when employees (especially those that hold themselves to a high standard) start making more mistakes, it’s worth noting. This can signify that they feel less connected to their work product, which is another sign of burnout.

Employee Burnout Sign #5: Requesting more time off

When employees start requesting more time off or requesting it with little to no notice, this may be a warning sign that they need a break from workplace stress.

Employee Health and Wellness Guide


Offer your team more support with NeoPath 

Becoming more aware of employee burnout and its subtle and not-so-subtle signs is an essential first step for employers and leaders. But that alone doesn’t solve the problem. That’s why more companies are examining their workplace culture and adding new stress management and mental health services to their well-being programs, including on-site mental health services

In response to the current mental health crisis, Neopath Health now offers our customers onsite mental health services powered by Good Human Work. They provide emotional, relational, and organizational health services delivered by licensed therapists who understand burnout and know how to coach people through it. If you want to offer your team this level of support, let’s get started.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Healthy Workplace, Mental Health, Workplace Wellness, Employee Burnout