Burnout! What is it, and why has this condition become a huge problem for so many employers? 

Burnout! What is it, and why has this condition become a huge problem for so many employers? 

People are more frequently reporting issues of overwhelming stress and burnout within the workplace. But […]
Category: Articles Mental Wellbeing
Written by: Nadine McCabe

People are more frequently reporting issues of overwhelming stress and burnout within the workplace. But what exactly do we mean by burnout and how can you determine if you or your staff are struggling with burnout? 

Life can be hectic, especially when you must juggle high workloads, deal with short staffing, and feel pressured by up-and-coming deadlines. We very often feel physically exhausted and worn out on these occasions of high pressure, but when you or your staff start to show signs of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion it can become more serious.  

Burnout is not stress! 

A certain amount of stress can be quite motivational and provide that little bit of pressure to perform to our best ability. We all need to feel pressure to ensure we complete tasks with an appropriate level of urgency. If you are feeling stressed your engagement increases and emotions are heightened.  

Burnout is completely the opposite… 

People who are suffering from burnout become disengaged from tasks, people, and their environment. Their emotions are blunted and will feeling overwhelmingly hopeless and helpless. They have zero motivation to keep going and feel there is simple no point in doing what they are doing.  

What symptoms to look out for? 


Do they seem to be disengaging with their work and colleagues? Is there a disconnect from the team and their surroundings?  


Chronic stress and burnout can lead to further issues both in terms of mental health and also physical health. This will lead to more frequent time off due to sickness. 


The feeling of hopelessness can lead to being more irritable along with heightened anger due to the isolation they are subjected to. 

An increase in accidents 

Concentration levels are diminished, and the inability to pay attention can lead to a greater number of accidents occurring. Exhaustion and issues with sleeping are also a contributing factor to more accidents. 


If left untreated and unacknowledged, burnout leads to more complex and serious mental health conditions such as depression. Symptoms of depression include: 

  • Concentration and memory issues 
  • Fatigue 
  • Feelings of guilt  
  • Pessimism and hopelessness 
  • Sleeping too much or too little 
  • Irritability 
  • Restlessness 
  • Loss of interest in hobbies 
  • Overeating, or appetite loss 
  • Aches, pains, headaches, or cramps that won't go away 
  • Digestive problems that don't get better, even with treatment 
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings 
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts 

No two people are the same and symptoms may vary so these are just a few pointers and bits of information to watch out for.  

What is the cause of burnout? 

Unlike stress, which can be as a result of anything from family life, to work to situations, or events that are happening; burnout is predominantly work or school related for students. And this comes as a result of excessive and chronic stress within the workplace or college and of course work overload so too much work. Being unable to carry out all of the tasks within the time frame expected. Other factors that can also affect burnout are being put under excessive pressure, big changes within a company, not having any control over outcomes and situations within the workplace and feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities. 

So how can you help? 

The main thing that you can do is to remember that a happy healthy workforce will more often than not be a productive workforce. And want to make the changes needed for your staff.  

There are some simple measures that you can put in place… things such as: 

  • Encouraging more regular breaks,  
  • Regularly check in with your staff to ensure they are manging their workloads ok, and if not review together the measure you can put in place.  
  • Provide reassurance of your expectations so that they feel comfortable in their own limitations.  
  • Encourage better sleep and eating habits 
  • Provide flexible working hours or ways of working 
  • Engage in morale boosting activities and provide professional services such as an EAP platform such as the one provided by EmpowerPlan Ltd or counselling services. 

EmpowerPlan EAP services are designed to offer preventative measures and are very proactive in maintaining mental fitness rather than just reacting to a crisis as they develop within your employees. If you want to find out more about our EAP membership services wellbeing workshop's please visit our website and book a demonstration call.