It's no secret that burnout is a huge problem in today's workplace. Employees struggle to meet the demands of their jobs and burn out as a result.

Burnout can be prevented. If you can catch the first signs of burnout in your employees, you can take steps to fix the problem before it gets too big. As a leader, it's important to be aware of the symptoms of burnout to help your team members get back to work.

Causes of burnout

Emotional exhaustion is a psychological process that occurs due to prolonged stress or excessive stress on the nervous system.

Human nervous system has a limit on the reproduction of psychological processes – information processing, attention, communication. If this limit is exceeded once, it can be restored after rest. If the limit is exceeded systematically, the nervous system may fail, overstrain and become exhausted. This process is accompanied by emotional burnout.

Because overexertion occurs in the workplace, it is called “professional”, and often occurs in the following circumstances:

  • Short deadlines and high workload
  • Leadership pressure and toxic environment
  • Lack of a role
  • Non-standard work schedule.

You can control the level of the workload of employees with the help of time tracker diagrams.

In summary, you can highlight a few points that can safely answer whether your company's employees are prone to burnout at work:

  1. Being constantly overworked, lacking vacations, and days off.
  2. Having too much free time with no tasks.
  3. Pressure from superiors, frequent changes of leadership.
  4. Competition, rigid frameworks, and deadlines.
  5. Lack of professional development, KPI, and motivation system.
  6. Negative atmosphere in the team, permanent stress.

If more than three points apply to your employees, we advise you to think about the current situation and start taking steps to correct it. Today you can assess the condition of your employees by the symptoms of psychological exhaustion.

Emotional burnout in professional activities: symptoms

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized burnout as a disease and included occupational burnout in the International Classification. Like any other disease, burnout has its symptoms:

  • Loss of interest in the tasks performed.
  • Chronic depression and apathy.
  • Irritation, cynicism, and outbursts of anger.
  • Decreased physical activity.
  • Low concentration and high fatigue.
  • Falling motivation.

The difference between burnout and fatigue is that burnout lasts for a long period of time and does not pass after sleep and vacation, it also does not appear out of nowhere. This is a long-term “disease”, the impact of which can be divided into three phases. Before you fight burnout, we advise you to study them better to be able to react in time.

3 stages of emotional burnout

How to help a person with emotional burnout depends on the stage in which he is.

The first stage of burnout

In the first stage, a person thinks that strength is enough for everything. Often he/she does not notice or deliberately ignores the body's signals that they need to rest and switch. It may seem that the energy has increased. But usually, a sharp rise is followed by a sharp decline, and then the second phase begins.

The second stage of burnout

When the body's signals of rest are ignored, the body spends hidden reserves to perform ordinary tasks. And when they come to an end, the body makes itself known about its needs so that it is accurately noticed: loss of strength, disease, and emotional instability. Against this background comes the last phase.

The third stage of burnout

It is difficult for a burnt-out person to force himself to fulfill even the simplest obligations, to find curiosity in ordinary things. There is a period of apathy, personal dissatisfaction, and stagnation.

Very often in the third stage comes dismissal of the hope that changing the type of activity will help or “that in another job everything will be different.” This will help if professional burnout is due to external factors. But there is also an inner tendency. If a person tends to take on more than his body can bear, burnout can haunt him regardless of position, profession, and the type of activity.

Prevention of burnout

Preventing employee burnout can save you time and money because according to statistics, a “burned out” person is likely to be fired within 3 months if the situation does not change.

You, as a leader, can influence this by using simple tools:

Open communication

Many managers and small business owners have a very pragmatic approach to work and team. But an important part of a well-established workflow is the interpersonal relationship between management and employees. It is not easy to control and give instructions, and it is important to create a trusting atmosphere in the team.

Things that will help building open communication in the team:

  1. Meetings with each employee 1:1.
  2. Collective discussion of the company's goals.
  3. Meetings in an informal setting.
  4. Employees need to feel that they can express their dissatisfaction and share their experiences, and this will help you notice the emotional devastation in time.

Less stress

Constant stress is one of the main causes of burnout. But you can reduce stress in the workplace if you:

  1. Give employees more precise goals and objectives for their work.
  2. Add a few breaks in the fresh air.
  3. Allow them to listen to music while completing tasks.
  4. Stimulate learning and professional development.
  5. Cancel overtime.
  6. Use employee time tracking software not as a tool for punishment, but as a tool for tracking and adjusting working time and workload.

These are just a few examples, but you can find other ways to reduce stress in your company.

Carrots and sticks

Burnout can provoke both heavy workload and lack of tasks, remember to balance.

  • Get out of the position of a gentleman who encourages freedom and expression, and add some rules to encourage employees to work productively.
  • Get out of the position of a tyrant who only criticizes and teaches, and give employees praise, support, and understanding.

Only the balance of “whip and gingerbread” will help keep the team in shape and prevent burnout.


Burnout in business is a serious problem facing employers around the world. It is better (and cheaper for the company) not to deal with the consequences of emotional exhaustion of employees while constantly finding new candidates for the same position, but to prevent it: create a positive atmosphere in the team, be open to communication, find a balance between rigor and encouragement, use time tracking software, reduce stress in the workplace.

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