Updated: February 12, 2024

17 Work Burnout Signs and Symptoms For Employees

You found our list of work burnout signs and symptoms for employees.

Work burnout signs and symptoms for employees are indications of mismanaged stress at the workplace. Examples include irritability, cynicism, and loss of confidence. Knowing the signs of burnout in the workplace is essential to safeguard your staff and maintain productivity.

Burnout is a symptom of an unhealthy work-life balance and a toxic work culture. Prolonged burnout can lead to employee turnover and quiet quitting.

This article contains:

  • work burnout symptoms
  • early burnout signs in employees
  • work burnout red flags
  • warning signs of professional burnout in employees
  • employee burnout signs
  • physical symptoms of burnout

Here we go!

List of work burnout signs and symptoms for employees

Identifying the warning symptoms of employee burnout helps to be familiar with the causes of this phenomenon. Common causes of burnout include lack of recognition for work done, overwhelming workload, and excessive pressure at work. If any of the following scenarios exist at your company, you should look for signs of burnout and take corrective action without delay. The following are employee burnout signs to pay attention to.

1. Feelings of Helplessness or Hopelessness

In professional life, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can manifest as a sense that individual efforts and abilities are insufficient to improve work situations. These feelings often arise when workers encounter persistent challenges or impossible obstacles. This emotional state can be particularly detrimental in professional settings, where a sense of control and the ability to effect change are important.

When employees experience these emotions at work, they may find it difficult to find the motivation needed to address the root causes of their burnout. Consequently, these feelings can lead to disengagement and withdrawal from work tasks and personal interactions. To tackle such feelings, individuals often benefit from seeking support, setting realistic goals, and working collaboratively. These steps may help team members regain a sense of empowerment over their work circumstances.

2. Decreased Sense of Accomplishment or Satisfaction

In the professional realm, a diminished sense of accomplishment and satisfaction often emerges due to prolonged burnout. This phenomenon is a pervasive feeling that work contributions are less meaningful or rewarding than they once were. This feeling can demoralize professionals who aim for excellence and take pride in their work. Individuals dealing with this facet of burnout may believe their efforts are going unnoticed or unappreciated. This feeling can erode self-esteem and overall job satisfaction.

The cycle of dissatisfaction can lead to decreased productivity and engagement. Additionally, workers may feel a persistent sense of disconnection from their roles. To address this issue, companies can foster a sense of recognition and appreciation within the workplace. Additionally, team members can try finding opportunities to rekindle enthusiasm for tasks. These steps may be essential in restoring a sense of accomplishment and job satisfaction.

Want some free team building tools?

$49 value (100% free)

  • 100+ fully tested icebreaker questions
  • 24+ themed Bingo generators
  • 5+ PDFs (including the 8% Rule)
  • 2024 team building calendar
  • and more...
Tool Box

Enter your email for instant access

3. Absenteeism

An increase in employee absenteeism is one of the work burnout red flags in employees. Staff burnout can contribute to health problems, including stress, fatigue, and depression. Over time, these problems may lead to heart disease, frequent headaches, stomach problems, dizziness, heart palpitations, and a rise in colds and flu. Nevertheless, the preceding health problems will lead to absenteeism among workers over time.

Some workers may be absent from work on purpose to avoid pressure-inducing initiatives. And some employees may not show up to work on time or may depart sooner than usual. This rate of absenteeism will have an impact on the overall productivity of the company. It is common knowledge that employees who feel overwhelmed by work-related stress are less likely to put in the effort required to complete their tasks. Cultivating a supportive workplace will significantly help manage burnout symptoms and improve work-life balance.

A healthy diet, an excellent immune system, and a great working environment can reduce absenteeism at work. However, the company’s culture is the most crucial factor, not the individual employees.

4. Memory Problems

Memory problems can be a concerning effect of burnout and negatively affect professional life. Burnout-induced stress and mental fatigue can reduce mental functions, including memory and recall. These problems often result in difficulties remembering important information, meeting deadlines, or completing tasks. Professionals may struggle to concentrate on their work, leading to increased frustration and self-doubt. These memory-related challenges can also impair problem-solving abilities, reducing an individual’s ability to cope with work demands.

It is essential to address memory problems, as they can weaken job performance and worsen burnout. To address these issues, consider employing memory-enhancing techniques and stress management strategies. Additionally, creating a supportive work environment that values mental well-being can be beneficial.

5. Increased Negativity

Increased negativity is one of the early burnout signs in employees. This symptom refers to a shift in the outlook on work, colleagues, and the organization toward a more critical perspective. Burnout can foster doubt and a heightened awareness of the negative aspects of the work environment. This feeling often overshadows positive elements of the workplace. Professionals may find themselves regularly thinking about shortcomings or becoming less tolerant of workplace issues.

This negativity can cause conflicts with coworkers, reduced motivation, and a growing sense of detachment from the workplace. This feeling can also reduce job satisfaction and collaboration. Professionals can address increased negativity by consciously looking for a balanced perspective. Additionally, fostering open communication within the workplace and improving work conditions and well-being may help.

Here is a list of conflict resolution activities.

6. Isolation from Coworkers

Isolation from colleagues is one of the warning signs of professional burnout in employees. Employees who were always the life of the office may suddenly withdraw.

This situation may be due to the employee experiencing personal stress. However, if this isolation persists for weeks or months, there could be a serious problem, such as job burnout. You should also note if a once outgoing employee is constantly angry or aggressive to coworkers, or if they begin declining preferred activities with colleagues.

If you manage a remote staff, it would be challenging to detect workplace burnout with this sign. You can rely on other indicators of burnout, such as delayed responses or lack of participation.

If an employee feels disconnected from the rest of the team, it is important to remind them to prioritize their health and well-being. In addition, it is necessary to deal with chronic stress to ensure interconnectedness in the workplace.

7. Decreased Efficiency

Employees constantly falling behind may be showing a telltale indicator of exhaustion. For instance, the worker may often deliver work late or miss critical deadlines. On top of that, these employees may be unable to offer their best effort.

If productivity drops or revenues slow down, it might be due to a pivotal team member’s burnout. For example, if one of your top performers or hardest workers has suddenly begun failing, delivering work late, or finding it hard to deal with the current job expectations, it may indicate that they are suffering burnout.

Despite the employee’s best efforts, they may not be able to return to their pre-burnout productivity levels. Consequently, decreased productivity, or choosing bare minimum Mondays, is another indicator of burnout on the job.

You should consider workers’ mental and physiological well-being to boost output. If you invest in your employees’ health, they will be in the greatest possible position to generate revenue for your company.

8. Increasing Errors

Employee burnout has several adverse effects on the workplace, including decreased productivity and quality of work. To err is human, and even the most diligent workers will inevitably make mistakes from time to time. However, constant errors may indicate burnout.

Having trouble focusing or remembering details is one of the signs of employee burnout. You should look into why your staff is consistently absent-minded if they are making careless blunders or missing crucial deadlines.

For example, you should invite the impacted workers to a meeting to discuss their work experience and describe the specifics of their job that are causing them stress. You can then take a helpful approach to figure out the issue. Then you may direct them to the resources they need to fight burnout.

The key to a successful wellness program is reassuring your staff there will be no punishment for discussing burnout. Your company will suffer significantly from employee burnout and subsequent blunders if workers are afraid to speak out about it for fear of retaliation.

9. Deterioration in Work Quality

Employees who have reached the point of burnout may have trouble focusing on even the most minor details. It is also possible to have memory gaps or difficulty recalling information. Consequently, these workers risk becoming careless with their actions. It is common knowledge that a single worker’s poor performance may have a ripple effect across a company.

A drop in morale might be why one of your workers started making careless errors that they had never made before. And instead of ignoring these signs of burnout and hoping it goes away, you should pay closer attention to them. When workers start to feel burned out, productivity drops.

10. Depression

Depression is a typical result of employee burnout. Symptoms may appear as a loss of confidence, a withdrawal from coworkers, and an obsession with meeting deadlines. When a colleague is depressed, they often show signs of exhaustion. A reduction in enthusiasm for the job is commonplace when an employee is depressed due to burnout. Employees dealing with depression may also experience changes in their eating habits, such as an increase or decrease in their food intake.

Depression at work may have major consequences. Therefore, be alert to warning signs and quickly and carefully handle these symptoms. The key to preventing burnout-related depression is creating a supportive workplace where workers feel comfortable speaking up about their problems. To help your staff members get the support they need, you should encourage them to communicate their emotions.

11. Sense of Detachment

Burned-out workers may start to withdraw from the organization, both physically and emotionally. Therefore, detachment is another way to identify the warning symptoms of burnout. Employees may, for instance, discontinue participating in team building activities and corporate expos. For the same reason, workers may stop following the brand on social media.

These employees may still attend work-related meetings, but their minds may be elsewhere. A good indicator would be silence or a passive attitude throughout the meeting. Since they were not paying attention, the employee probably has not implemented any of the meeting’s suggestions. These signs indicate the worker has become disengaged with their work and the firm.

12. Exhaustion

Exhaustion is one of the telltale signs of burnout among employees. The inability to unwind at the end of the day or get a good night’s sleep due to an abundance of work-related stress is a major contributor to chronic exhaustion.

Sleep-deprived employees may experience various negative symptoms, from basic drowsiness to physical discomfort, memory loss, and hallucinations. Long-term health problems, such as obesity, might develop if fatigue worsens. Employees who complain about not getting enough sleep may be experiencing burnout. Therefore, it is crucial to consider this situation and take appropriate measures.

13. Lack of Confidence

Loss of confidence is a less obvious symptom of work burnout. Consequently, this sign can be crucial for monitoring occupational burnout. For instance, when an employee suddenly loses all confidence in their job, it might be a lowkey sign of burnout.

Workers may tell their colleagues they are sure their boss would disapprove of their latest project. Such individuals might also develop severe self-doubt over their professional abilities. That lack of faith may also manifest in the employee’s private life. For instance, the employee could feel unappreciated, useless, or unloved. Consequently, workers may stop confiding in their friends and family and withdraw from social life altogether.

Workers who are struggling with self-esteem may often resort to various coping mechanisms. However, compassion, emotional support, and praise go a long way toward maintaining a positive work environment.

List of the physical symptoms of burnout

Burnout can cause physical symptoms because the mind and body are closely connected. When individuals go through prolonged stress and emotional strain due to burnout, it can trigger physical reactions. This reaction, often called the “fight or flight” response, releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. While this response helps deal with immediate threats, long-term stress can harm physical health. Stress disrupts the body’s normal functioning and can lead to physical issues.

Common physical symptoms of burnout include constant tiredness, headaches, tense muscles, and problems like stomachaches or irritable bowel syndrome. These issues occur because ongoing stress affects different parts of the body, such as the immune system, digestion, and heart. Also, those experiencing burnout might turn to unhealthy habits like eating too much, smoking, or having too much caffeine, which can make physical health problems worse.

Moreover, when burnt out, individuals often forget to care for themselves. These workers might not exercise, eat well, or get enough sleep, which are essential for staying physically healthy. This combination of stress, disrupted sleep, and unhealthy habits can lead to physical symptoms and make employees more prone to getting sick. It is important for professionals to recognize these physical signs of burnout because they can be early warnings that there is an issue. To get better, it is necessary to address burnout by caring for mental and physical well-being.

The following are physical signs of work burnout.

1. Trouble Sleeping

Burnout often goes hand in hand with difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. The persistent stress, worry, and mental fatigue associated with burnout can lead to insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns. Racing thoughts and anxiety about work-related issues may keep individuals awake at night, making it challenging to get the rest they need. This lack of sleep can increase feelings of exhaustion and impact the ability to cope with daily demands, creating a cycle that worsens burnout.

2. Headaches and Stomachaches

Frequent headaches and stomachaches are common physical symptoms of burnout. Ongoing stress and emotional strain can trigger physical tension in the muscles, including those in the head and neck, leading to tension headaches. Additionally, stress can disrupt the digestive system, causing stomachaches, indigestion, and even conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. These physical symptoms often signal that the body is struggling to cope with the chronic stress and emotional strain associated with burnout.

3. Muscle Pain

Physical symptoms of burnout might include aches and pains. When under stress, the body’s muscles tighten reflexively to protect itself from harm. Muscle tension is normal during stress but persists because of chronic stress. This stress often leads to aches in the back, neck, and head.

4. Sickness

Low energy can make employees more susceptible to colds and other viruses. It can be helpful to track how many sick days workers request to determine who could be overworked or burnt out. Employees who become sick from every new illness may have compromised immune function owing to exhaustion. Or, these employees may need to take breaks to mentally and physically recover from fatigue. Continual absences from work due to illness may hurt a company’s output and, in the long run, its reputation.


When employees reach burnout, they lose interest in their work and disengage. Such workers will also be unproductive at work, and their emotional and physical well-being will falter. Employee burnout harms an organization’s bottom line and brand reputation due to lower productivity, poor performance, increased healthcare expenditures, and high turnover rates. Human resources managers and company executives should keep an eye out for the symptoms of burnout discussed here. At that point, you must take measures to prevent any more complications.

Brush up on the signs of a bad manager, social loafing, and work-life balance quotes.

FAQ: Work burnout signs and symptoms for employees

Here are frequently asked questions about work burnout signs and symptoms.

What is employee burnout?

Employee burnout is a lack of motivation for work, especially if past efforts have failed to produce significant results. The company’s goodwill gestures, such as gift cards, paid time off, and care packages, are just band-aids. If no one in management has taken steps to alleviate the source of the worker’s burnout, the worker may decide to leave the company. Temporary fixes will not work if the employee is dealing with medical symptoms or mental challenges at work that are causing them to disengage.

What are the warning signs of burnout in employees?

Some warning signs include irritability, absenteeism, and decreased efficiency. You should identify the early warning signs of burnout among your staff and take immediate action to avoid the situation from worsening. You may foster a productive and positive work environment for your staff.

How can you tell that your employees are getting burnt out?

The indicators of burnout among your employees include isolation from colleagues, low confidence, and detachment. You should also watch out for signs of depression.

  • Twit
  • Linked
  • Email Share
Author avatar


People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

LinkedIn Grace He

Get our free team building tool box

$49 value at no cost.
May as well check it out?

Tool Box

Enter your email for instant access