Human Resources and Benefits

Preventing Employee Burnout

Woman stressed at work

employee burnout stats

Nearly 23% of employees report feeling burned out at work very often or always. An additional 44% of employees report feeling burned out at least some of the time.

Burn out affects employees from all walks of life–from top-level executives to nurses and clergy with significant caregiving responsibilities to everyday employees. Regardless of your industry or the number of employees you have, this is an important topic to be aware of. Knowing the signs of burnout can be a significant part of preventing it.

What is Employee Burnout?

The term “burnout” was coined in 1974 and was often casually used as a term synonymous with high levels of stress. However, in June 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified burnout as a medical diagnosis.

It is listed in the International Classification of Diseases, the handbook that guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases. In this handbook, burnout is described as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Doctors can diagnose an employee with burnout if they exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Exhaustion or energy depletion
  • Decreased engagement at work, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced productivity or efficacy

For some employees, the negative effects of burnout extend beyond their work life and into their home and social life. Moreover, burnout can increase an employee’s risk for getting sick or developing a chronic condition.

Stress vs. Burnout

Stress and burnout are not the same thing, but they are related. Burnout is the result of prolonged and chronic workplace stress. Stress can often be alleviated by taking vacation, working fewer hours, or cutting back on your workload.

Burnout is more than just fatigue. It brings a deep sense of disillusionment and hopelessness. Problems seem insurmountable, and it becomes difficult to muster up energy to care. It isn’t uncommon to experience a few days where you feel unappreciated, helpless, or overloaded, but if someone feels like this most of the time, they may be burned out.

For further physical, emotional, and behavioral signs of burnout, visit

How to Reduce Employee Burnout

While it may not be possible to eliminate job stress altogether for your employees, you can help them learn how to manage it effectively. Here are some ideas to help reduce employee stress, which can improve health, morale, and productivity.

  • Make sure workloads are appropriate.
  • Have managers meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication.
  • Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately. Do not tolerate bullying, discrimination, or any other similar behaviors.
  • Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes. This contributes to morale and decreases stress levels.
  • Encourage a positive work-life balance.
  • Promote exercise at your organization, as it’s a proven stress reliever.
  • Encourage employees to utilize their paid time off.
  • Incorporate company-sponsored activities to give employees a reason to leave their desks and take a break.
  • Train managers on how to keep employees engaged and motivated at work, and how to address burnout with employees.

Benefits of Reducing Employee Stress and Burnout

A low-stress work environment can yield a variety of benefits, including:

  • Fewer injuries (check out this article to learn more about why stress is a workplace safety issue).
  • Improved mental and physical health among employees; reduced absences and sick leave usage. Stress is one of the leading causes of absenteeism among employees. A low-stress workplace can reduce the number of “mental health days” and sick days employees need to take.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Improved work-life balance.
  • Increased employee retention. When employees don’t feel overly stressed, they are more likely to stay with their current employer. Also, an employer that promotes a low-stress work environment is an attractive option for prospective employees.
  • Improved morale and job satisfaction. Healthy employees who are operating under manageable stress levels are happier and more positive. This kind of work environment helps foster productivity and creativity.
  • Reduced costs to the employer.
  • Shows employees that you care. Actively working to maintain manageable levels of stress among employees shows you care about their health and happiness.

For More Information

Burnout is a serious syndrome that may be affecting your employees. It is important to recognize the signs of burnout and take steps to prevent it at your workplace.

For more information on stress reduction resources for employees, contact your Leavitt Group insurance advisor.

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