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Preventing Employee Burnout: Recognizing the 7 Signs of Overwork

Do you know the signs of an overworked employee? They might be hard to spot, but if you know them, you can be proactive in helping. Learn the 7 signs of employee burnout here.

In today’s fast-paced world, work-life balance has become more of a myth than a reality. With that, employee burnout has become a common phenomenon. Prolonged exposure to work-related stressors can lead to a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion known as employee burnout. It can have a significant impact on an individual’s well-being and productivity. It can even lead to absenteeism, low morale, and high turnover rates. However, employee burnout is preventable, and recognizing the signs of an overworked employee is the first step to prevent it.

What does Employee Burnout happen?

signs of an overworked employee

Employee burnout happens due to prolonged exposure to workplace stressors, including;

  • heavy workloads
  • long hours
  • lack of control over work
  • unclear job expectations
  • lack of support from colleagues or supervisors
  • workplace conflict

Burnout can also occur when employees feel undervalued or unsupported by their organization, leading to a sense of disengagement and apathy towards work. Additionally, personal factors, such as financial stress, relationship problems, or health issues, can also contribute to employee burnout. It’s important for employers to recognize the various signs of an overworked employee and take steps to address them to prevent the negative consequences on employee well-being and organizational productivity.

What are the signs of an overworked employee?

1. Decreased Productivity

One of the most significant signs of an overworked employee is a decrease in productivity. Overworking employees reduces their efficiency and increases the time taken to complete tasks. They may also make more mistakes, which can lead to frustration and a further decrease in productivity. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, the estimated cost of lost productivity due to burnout is around $125 billion to $190 billion annually.

2. Increased Absenteeism

attendance and your absenteeism policy

Another sign of employee burnout is increased absenteeism. Overworked employees may feel physically and emotionally drained, making it challenging to show up for work. Studies show that unscheduled absences cost organizations an average of 9.2% of their payroll each year. Absenteeism can cause a domino effect of lots of other issues for your organization so should be taken seriously. If an employee is persistently absent, it is a tell-tale sign they are overworked.

3. Reduced Engagement

Employees who are overworked may become disengaged from their work, leading to a lack of motivation and enthusiasm. They may feel as though they are just going through the motions and not contributing anything meaningful to the organization. According to a Gallup poll, only 34% of U.S. employees are engaged at work, and burnout is a significant factor in this low number.

4. Increased Irritability

When employees are overworked, they may become easily irritated and short-tempered. They may snap at coworkers, managers, or customers, which can lead to conflicts and a negative work environment. A study by the American Psychological Association found that 65% of employees said that work was a significant source of stress, and 25% said that work was the primary source of stress in their lives.

5. Lack of Creativity

Another of the signs of an overworked employee is that they may not have the mental energy or creativity to come up with new ideas or solutions. They may feel stuck in their work and unable to think outside the box. This lack of creativity can lead to a stagnant work environment and a lack of innovation. According to a study by Accenture, 96% of executives said that innovation is critical to their organization’s success, but only 48% said that their organization is actively pursuing innovation.

6. Physical Symptoms

animation of three employees working together on a schedule

Employee burnout can also manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain, and stomach problems. When employees are overworked, their bodies may become tense and stressed, leading to these physical symptoms. According to a study by the American Institute of Stress, job stress is estimated to cost U.S. employers more than $300 billion annually in healthcare and missed work.

7. Emotional Exhaustion

Finally, one of the most significant signs of employee burnout is emotional exhaustion. When employees are overworked, they may feel emotionally drained and unable to cope with the demands of their job. They may experience feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and cynicism, which can lead to depression and anxiety. According to research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful.

Want to help an overworked employee?

Employee burnout is a serious issue that can have significant consequences for both employees and employers. Recognizing the signs of overworked employees is the first step in preventing employee burnout. By addressing these signs early on, organizations can take steps to reduce stress and improve employee well-being, ultimately leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

Employers can take several steps to prevent employee burnout, including providing employees with more autonomy and control over their work, offering flexible work arrangements, promoting a healthy work-life balance, and providing employee assistance programs. By creating a supportive work environment that values employee well-being, organizations can reduce the risk of burnout and improve employee engagement and retention.

In summary, recognizing the signs of overwork is essential to prevent employee burnout. By addressing these signs early on and implementing strategies to reduce stress and promote employee well-being, organizations can create a positive work environment that benefits both employees and employers. Ultimately, preventing employee burnout is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business.

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