Workplace burnout: 4 common symptoms and how to prevent it

Workplace burnout: 4 common symptoms and how to prevent it

-By DLC Prevention & Education Manager Jessica Liria, M.S.

The average full-time employee working 40 hours per week spends about 25% of their total living time “on the clock.” That’s nearly three full months each year spent at the workplace!

Some of the changes needed to avoid burnout may be beyond our control. Still, there are many actions that employees and employers can take to maximize satisfaction while decreasing symptoms of burnout both inside and outside of the office.

What is workplace burnout?

Workplace burnout is a signal that our occupational wellness is suffering. This term is used to describe the physical and/or emotional exhaustion felt by an employee. It can be experienced in a variety of ways.

The four most common symptoms of workplace burnout include:

  1. Difficulty making it to work each day
  2. Having low energy or low morale
  3. Becoming cynical and/or irritable with co-workers and customers
  4. Lacking the sense of enrichment once felt in daily tasks

Workplace burnout affects our overall health and can lead to additional concerns, such as interpersonal conflicts, damage to career trajectory, and the use of substances to cope. Medical conditions, like high blood pressure and heart disease, can also develop.

That is why identifying and addressing workplace burnout at the earliest indication of symptoms is critical and can help lead to the most effective outcome.

Many risk factors for workplace burnout occur at the physical workspace itself. Challenges an employee faces during the workday that can lead to burnout may include: having unclear job expectations, a dysfunctional work environment and/or a lack of control or resources to do the job properly.

Employees who feel they are not supported or being utilized to their full potential by their managerial team may lose focus and initiative on their tasks. This can lead to a decrease in their productivity and in their quality of work.

I am experiencing workplace burnout… Now what?

Help is available. Employees who are experiencing workplace burnout can address the issue by considering possible solutions and discussing them with their manager or supervisor. Being open and honest about how they are feeling, in a respectful manner, can lead to positive changes.

There are additional ways to prevent burnout in the workplace, including:

Improve the balance between work and life. Although the workplace tends to be where most risk factors are experienced, it is important for employees to pay attention to how engaged they feel in their personal lives. For example, if employees feel like the majority of their time and effort is spent away from the people or the activities they enjoy outside of work, it can quickly lead to resentment and burnout. Developing a healthier balance between work and personal life is often the key to managing work-related stress and can help prevent burnout, even when facing risk factors on the job.

Maintain a healthy self-care routine. Focus on adequate sleep and nutrition, activities to cope with stress and seek support from friends, family and co-workers.

Take reasonable breaks throughout the workday. A few brief break times each day can help you recharge. For instance, the breaks can be used to practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and releasing tension.

Keep a positive outlook and acknowledge recent accomplishments. A healthy mindset can go a long way. Workplace morale is the responsibility of every employee. Part of that includes avoiding getting caught up in complaints or gossip as much as possible.

Utilize community resources and partnerships. As an employer, providing educational sessions for employees on topics like workplace burnout can aid in maintaining a healthy workforce, which is important for productivity and continued success.

David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) provides educational workshops to promote wellness in the workplace at no cost. For more information, visit

Nov 04, 2021 | Mental Health, Blog

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