Burnout Britain: How to recognise symptoms of burnout

Employee burnout is a serious and widespread problem that affects businesses around the world. In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that employees are feeling overworked and overwhelmed with no end in sight. According to the National Institutes of Health, employee burnout is affecting as many as two out of every three workers in some countries. This alarming statistic further highlights the need for employers to take steps to address this growing issue.


The effects of burnout can be far-reaching, ranging from decreased productivity and engagement among employees to higher turnover rates. Additionally, research has shown that employee burnout can be linked to other forms of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress-related illnesses. Therefore, it's crucial to take steps to reduce employee burnout and create an environment that promotes well-being and healthy work-life balance.

What is burnout?

Employee burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion caused by long-term exposure to difficult working conditions. It is characterised by feelings of low morale, loss of motivation, and reduced productivity. Employee burnout can be caused by various factors such as workload, job insecurity, lack of control over work tasks or environment, inadequate rewards for effort and recognition for accomplishments, unsupportive supervisors or co-workers, interpersonal conflicts in the workplace or even too much emphasis on success rather than enjoyment. Burnout can have many damaging effects on both employers and employees.

Spotting the signs of burnout

Employee burnout is a common issue, particularly in the current environment where employees are working more hours from home and managing additional stressors. Signs of burnout may include feeling:

  1. overwhelmed by work
  2. having difficulty concentrating
  3. feeling disengaged from tasks
  4. experiencing physical symptoms such as fatigue or headaches

To prevent employee burnout, employers should ensure that their staff members have adequate resources available to them and provide support when needed.

One of the most important signs to look out for is an employee's emotional state. If they seem anxious or irritable on a regular basis, this could be a sign of burnout. Another sign to keep an eye out for is changes in performance - if an employee's productivity decreases significantly over time despite being motivated and engaged, this could be a sign of burnout.

In addition to monitoring employee performance, employers should also be aware of any changes in behaviour or attitude. If an employee starts avoiding certain tasks or has difficulty making decisions related to their job, they may be feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. It is important for employers to listen to these signals and take action if necessary.

Finally, it is crucial that employers provide their staff with the resources they need to succeed at work. This includes having enough time off between shifts so that employees can rest and recharge, ensuring there are enough resources available (such as scheduling software or team management tools) for employees to do their jobs efficiently, and providing access to mental health services when needed.

How to deal with burnout

Take regular breaks – One of the best things you can do when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck on a task is to take a break from it. Even if it’s just for five minutes, stepping away from your desk will help to clear your mind and give you the space to come up with new ideas or solutions for whatever issue you may be facing.

Practice self-care Taking the time to look after yourself is essential for staying healthy and productive. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising regularly in order to keep your body and mind functioning at their best. You should also find activities that help you to relax such as yoga or meditation.

Connect with others – It’s important to remember that you don’t have to cope with burnout alone. Talking to a colleague, friend or family member can help lessen any worries or stress you may be feeling. Trying to work from a new space such as flexible offices can help you network with new like-minded people.

Set boundaries – Learning how to say ‘no’ can be a challenge but it is an essential skill when it comes to preventing burnout. Setting healthy boundaries at work will help you to better manage your workload and avoid taking on more than you can handle.

Seek professional help – If the problem persists, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help such as counselling or therapy. Talking to a mental health professional can be extremely beneficial in helping you gain insight into the root cause of your stress and how to effectively manage it.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, Offering Counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, EMDR & Mindfulness.
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3

Ian Stockbridge is the founder and lead counsellor at Hope Therapy and Counselling Services. 

As an experienced Counsellor, Ian recognised a huge societal need for therapeutic services that were often not being met. As such the 'Hope Agency'was born and its counselling team now offers counselling and therapeutic support throughout the UK.

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