If you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably have heard of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). It’s the skill that is known to be more important than IQ in the workplace because it involves being aware of yourself and others and thereby being able to manage your emotions and relationships. Well, when it comes to burnout in the workplace, it’s not unlike EQ.

Burnout statistics have been through the roof for years. This is nothing new. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done about it. In fact, the more you know, the more you can intervene and prevent it. Trouble is, leaders don’t always know what to look for or what to do once they find it. 

In this article, we’ll uncover the signs of burnout you need to pay attention to in your staff as well as effective strategies to address and even prevent burnout from taking place. 


Understanding Employee Burnout


Burnout is more than just feeling tired or stressed. It’s a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged exposure to high levels of stress, often resulting from excessive work demands, lack of control, and limited resources. The impact of burnout on individuals and organizations is significant, leading to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, higher turnover rates, and compromised mental and physical health.

As a leader, it’s crucial to be able to recognize the common signs and symptoms of burnout among your team members. These indicators can manifest in various ways, including:

Easily Irritated Demeanor: Burnout can make employees more irritable and short-tempered, leading to conflicts and strained relationships within the team. Do you find your workers suddenly being short with you or others?

Increased Absenteeism: Burnout often causes employees to take more frequent sick leaves or personal days as they struggle to find motivation and energy to perform their work duties. Are folks playing hooky more often?

Inconsistent Work Hours: Burnout can result in erratic work schedules, with employees frequently arriving late, leaving early, or taking extended breaks. Are you surprised that those same workers who you know to be reliable are now unreliable?

Physical Exhaustion: Prolonged stress and burnout can lead to chronic fatigue, leaving employees physically drained and lacking the vitality needed to perform at their best. Do your workers complain of frequent headaches or do they seem to have slowed down considerably?

Decline in Productivity: Burnout can significantly impact an individual’s ability to concentrate, make decisions, and complete tasks efficiently, resulting in a noticeable decline in productivity and quality of work. Does it seem like tasks are taking longer to complete?

Forgetfulness and Simple Errors: When burnout takes hold, employees may experience cognitive difficulties, such as forgetfulness and increased occurrence of simple errors, which can negatively affect job performance and accuracy. Are things falling apart?

As a leader, you need to familiarize yourself with these signs and symptoms so you can proactively identify potential burnout cases within your team and take appropriate action to support and address the underlying causes.


Identifying Burnout in Your Staff


As you pondered the questions in the last section, you may have found yourself thinking, “I’m not sure how to answer that.” The truth is, you’re just one person trying to observe an entire team while also thinking about your own work and the company at large. That’s a lot of responsibility. So how can you find out what’s really going on? Here are four strategies:

Promoting a culture of psychological safety is paramount in mitigating burnout risks. Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up, sharing their concerns, and seeking help without fear of judgment or reprisal. Encourage collaboration, empathy, and mutual support among team members. By creating a culture that values well-being and encourages open dialogue, you can proactively address burnout and foster a resilient workforce.

Regular check-ins and feedback sessions are powerful tools for both preventing and identifying burnout. Schedule one-on-one meetings with your team members to discuss their workload, progress, and any difficulties they may be facing. This not only allows you to stay informed about their current state but also demonstrates your commitment to their well-being and professional growth. Use these opportunities to provide constructive feedback, acknowledge their accomplishments, and offer support where needed.

Recognizing individual and team dynamics is crucial in identifying burnout among your staff. Pay attention to changes in behavior, attitude, or performance that deviate from their usual patterns. Notice if any team members consistently seem overwhelmed, disengaged, or less productive. Take note of any conflicts or tension within the team that could contribute to increased stress levels. Being attuned to these dynamics allows you to intervene early and provide the necessary support.

Mindful workload and task assignments play a significant role in preventing and managing burnout. Be mindful of the workload you assign to individuals and ensure it aligns with their skills, experience, and capacity. Avoid overloading employees with excessive responsibilities and unreasonable deadlines. Distribute tasks fairly and consider redistributing work if one team member is consistently overloaded. Strive for a balance that promotes productivity while respecting individuals’ well-being.


III. Taking Proactive Steps to Address Burnout


Burnout can have a significant impact on both individual employees and the overall productivity of the team. That’s why it’s crucial to take proactive steps to address and prevent burnout. Let’s explore some practical strategies that can make a real difference.

First, leading by example is key. I’m sure you already understand the importance of work-life balance, but are you actively promoting it within your team? Do you encourage your team members to prioritize their personal lives and set boundaries between work and home? Demonstrating self-care practices and openly discussing the significance of mental and physical well-being can have a powerful impact.

Have you ever thought about the tone you set in your meetings? Starting them on a positive note can make a world of difference. Have you tried recognizing achievements, expressing gratitude, or sharing inspiring stories? Creating an uplifting atmosphere encourages open dialogue and allows your team members to feel valued and motivated.

Let’s not forget about mental health and well-being. Have you provided resources and support for your team members? Do they have access to counseling services or employee assistance programs? It’s crucial to foster an environment where mental health is openly discussed and prioritized. Encouraging self-reflection and self-care activities, like mindfulness exercises or wellness challenges, can also contribute to a healthier and happier team.

Lastly, have you communicated the available employee benefits and resources effectively? Sometimes, team members may not be fully aware of the programs and support systems that can help them. Consider creating a cheat sheet or a guide that outlines all the wellness initiatives, counseling services, or flexible work arrangements they have access to. Regularly remind your team members about these resources and ensure they understand how to take advantage of them. You might even gamify the process by incentivizing them to utilize those benefits (e.g., an online course on burnout) to ensure they consume the content.

When you’re proactive and implement such strategies, you demonstrate your commitment to your team’s well-being and create an environment that fosters growth, engagement, and resilience. Together, let’s build a thriving team that supports each other and achieves outstanding results.


IV. Strategies for Engaging Employees and Preventing Burnout


Want to create a positive work culture that fosters satisfaction, growth, and resilience? Here are five suggestions.

First and foremost, it’s important to promote meaningful work. Help your team members understand the purpose and impact of their contributions. How can you connect their daily tasks to the larger goals and mission of the organization? Encourage them to see the value in their work and how it positively affects others. When employees feel a sense of purpose, they are more likely to stay motivated and committed.

Another vital aspect is encouraging skill development and growth opportunities. Do you provide avenues for your employees to enhance their skills and acquire new knowledge? Offering training programs, workshops, or mentorship opportunities can empower them to grow both professionally and personally. When employees see that you invest in their development, they feel valued and are more likely to stay engaged.

Creating a supportive team environment is equally important. Foster collaboration, open communication, and mutual respect among team members. Encourage them to share ideas, offer support, and seek assistance when needed. When individuals feel supported and connected to their colleagues, they are better equipped to handle challenges and cope with stress.

Recognizing and celebrating achievements is a powerful way to boost morale and prevent burnout. Take the time to acknowledge and appreciate your team members’ accomplishments. Offer praise, rewards, or incentives to show your gratitude. Celebrating milestones and successes creates a positive atmosphere and encourages a sense of accomplishment among employees.

Lastly, focus on creating a positive work culture. Foster an environment where trust, respect, and kindness are the norm. Encourage open communication, promote work-life balance, and provide flexibility when possible. By cultivating a culture that prioritizes employee well-being and emphasizes the importance of a healthy work-life integration, you create a space where burnout is less likely to occur.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed that many of the suggestions revolve around creating a certain atmosphere at work. In sum, you want to strive for an environment that’s meaningful, supporting, and overall positive. That’s the kind of irresistible workplace that no one can resist and where you and they can thrive. 




You hold the power to shape the well-being and success of your team. By being proactive in addressing burnout and implementing strategies to engage your employees, you can create a work environment that fosters happiness, productivity, and fulfillment.

Remember, burnout is not an isolated issue but a collective responsibility. Build open lines of communication, promote a positive work culture, and provide support and resources to empower your team members to thrive both personally and professionally. When employees feel valued, supported, and engaged, they are more likely to bring their best selves to work and contribute to the overall success of the organization.

In this article, we shared a number of strategies and that can feel overwhelming. But you don’t have to do this alone. Get support from your higher ups or consider hiring a coach (especially one who specializes in EQ) to work with you on this important aspect of your role.

Together, let’s create a work environment where individuals can flourish, overcome challenges, and find joy in their work. 


Want me to speak to your organization about managing stress? Check out my keynote, “Make Stress Your Superpower.”


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Dr. Sharon Grossman, AKA the Burnout Doc, is a clinically trained psychologist and subject matter expert in burnout and mental health. Associations and Fortune 500 companies hire her to be their closing keynote speaker, to help their members and executives crack the code on burnout, and create custom-tailored solutions for recovery.
Over the past 20 years, Dr. Sharon has been helping high achievers who are struggling with anxiety, overwhelm, and burnout go from exhausted to extraordinary by better understanding how their brain works and how they can design and run their programming on purpose to live the kind of life they want to live. She is the author of several books on burnout and mindset and host of the Decode Your Burnout podcast. Through her speaking, training, and coaching, she helps organizations keep their top talent.