A man using a laptop

Has there ever been a time when you felt so disheartened and exhausted that you couldn’t bring yourself to get out of bed and go to work? Many people go through these tough moments before eventually reverting to their productive and normal selves, but sometimes, some people aren’t able to bounce back.

Imagine a sales manager who loved their job and was a top performer at their company—they even built a whole team of top performers to improve productivity at work. Lately, they seem to be constantly exhausted and isolated at work. They’ve started missing their deadlines, taking more sick leaves, and snapping at others more easily when they used to be cool-headed and calm. They’ve also started giving their team members and manager a headache and seem to be getting dangerously close to getting put on a performance improvement plan.

There’s no real answer regarding their altered behavior, but it’s probably because of employee burnout.

Here’s everything a New York executive search firm has got to say:

An office meeting

Understanding burnout

All of the symptoms that the person in the example above exhibited out of the blue, such as irritability, exhaustion, absenteeism, disengagement, and lack of productivity and motivation, are major signs of employee burnout. These behaviors are usually accompanied by feeling a lack of achievement and job satisfaction. Burnout means that a person’s physical and emotional resources have been spent—they’re left in a lethargic yet hyper-stressful state which causes them to be unable to function properly in the workplace. This serious problem was classified as an official mental condition in 2019, and it can negatively affect people’s life if not taken care of.

Around 67% of employees in the US have reported undergoing feelings of burnout at different frequencies. In Germany, around 2.7 million employees reported feeling burnt out some years ago, and there was a sudden spike in sick leaves in the country because of mental health problems.

Nobody’s immune to this sensation—a high percentage of highly-engaged US employees experience employee burnout at some point in their lives. Just because you might be passionate about your job doesn’t mean that you can stave off burnout forever either. If you’re highly dedicated to your job, you might take more mental pressure regarding job-related responsibilities, increasing the chances of burnout.

What causes burnout?

There are 5 main causes of employee burnout, with many other possible reasons having similar undertones as these:

  • Unreasonable time pressure
  • Lack of support and communication from their manager
  • Lack of clarity about the role
  • Unmanageable workload
  • Unfair treatment

When employees are pressured and overworked without getting proper support, they tend to burn out. This might also be because of how people’s work gets evaluated—quick turnaround, exemplary dedication, and high productivity are considered the most important values in an employee and are the main characteristics that bring about salary increases and good performance reviews. Even trying to use technology for optimizing work and saving time can result in people working more.

Focusing only on an employee’s long and hard work for evaluation isn’t sustainable, especially if the company is asking too much from them. The good news? It’s completely within the power of the HR department and company leaders to bring about some change if they want to.


A female employee

Why is it important to focus on burnout

Nobody is immune to burnout—it can happen to anyone at any time. Burnt-out employees are also much more likely to incur large organizational costs. They might start taking more sick leaves or even start looking for other jobs, increasing your turnover rate and increasing costs related to training and hiring replacements, as well as lost revenue. These employees might also be usually rather productive and engaged, and you don’t want to lose them just because they’re struggling. They might even be managers responsible for large teams, and their burnout can spill over to various levels of the company.

If a lot of your workers are exhibiting different symptoms of employee burnout, it might indicate a problem within the company culture. You’ll also notice other aspects, such as low job satisfaction and unreasonable productivity.

It’s all about caring—thousands of people deal with employee burnout daily, and the damage it can cause is very real. A lot of people find that burnout is an obstacle in their personal and family lives as well. It can even increase the chances of them having to visit emergency rooms because of immense stress. Helping family members, friends, and colleagues get over burnout, or doing your part in preventing burnout, can benefit your organization and humans.

A stressed person

How to prevent burnout

Communication is essential for keeping your employees energized and motivated. Clear communication will help workers understand their goals, ways to achieve them, and the way that other people feel about their decisions. Ineffective communication can cause a lot of problems. Some ways that you can keep your team productive and motivated include:

  • Knowing what you want to communicate—it’s easy to assume that people know exactly what you’re talking about, but sometimes, explaining things multiple times to get the point across is important. Think about what you want to say, and put your words together in a clear manner to avoid having to repeat yourself.
  • Start things off with ‘why’—if you need to convince a person or fellow employee to do something for you, jumping right into the action might be tempting, but it’s important to build motivation and trust by explaining the purpose behind the action.
  • Keep it short and simple—people prefer reading shorter texts and emails and are much more likely to respond if things are basic. Maintain regular communication and keep things to the point.


People in an office

Get in touch with an executive compensation consultant in NY

Dealing with employee burnout by yourself can be tricky; it’s best to consult specialists who know how to hire and retain employees, such as Cochran, Cochran, and Yale. Our professional Executive recruiter NY have years of experience with headhunting, vetting, and hiring talented people for all kinds of executive jobs.

Contact New York Executive Headhunters NY to learn more.