It's not uncommon for workers to get stressed, aggravated, or disillusioned once in a while. But when those feelings cross the line into burnout, it can be dangerously detrimental not only to those employees who suffer from it, but also to your company.

Contrary to what some might think, burnout is a rather serious situation. The Mayo Clinic describes burnout as "a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work."

Unfortunately, 96% of senior managers today report that their employees are experiencing some degree of burnout, according to recently compiled data from staffing firm Robert Half. And the sooner you get ahead of the problem, the better equipped you'll be to help your employees work through it.

Seated man in suit holding his head as if stressed


Warning signs of burnout

It's not always easy to predict when an employee will burn out, but according to Robert Half, these are the factors managers and employees point to that can lead to it:

  • Unmanageable workloads
  • Career stagnation
  • Constant interruptions
  • Toxic workplace culture
  • Dated technology

It's possible to intervene with regard to all of these. For employees with too much on their plates, the solution is simple: Lift some of the burden, or get them help. Bring in temporary workers during extended busy periods, or hire more support staff for your team.

As far as job-related stagnation goes, try sitting down with your employees to discuss their desired career paths. See what they enjoy about their current roles, and what skills they're eager to expand on. Then, help them map out a concrete plan so they feel like they're working toward something real. At the same time, be willing to invest in skill development, whether by subsidizing outside courses or offering more in-house training.

Persistent interruptions, meanwhile, can be solved for by letting employees work from home, at least on a partial basis. Designating "quiet areas" within the office can help as well, as can making private offices with doors available to workers on an as-needed basis.

You'll also need to examine your company's culture to see if it's contributing to burnout. And if select managers or employees are making life miserable for a large number of people, eliminating a few toxic individuals could be the ticket to improving your workers' outlook on a whole.

Finally, invest in technology that allows your employees to do their jobs effectively. And if you can't afford an overhaul right away, set priorities and aim to upgrade over time. Just knowing that relief is on the horizon could change the way your employees view the work they do.

Burnout is a serious problem in today's workforce, especially given the "always on" culture that both managers and employees seem to perpetuate. If you want to avoid suffering the consequences of employee burnout, get ahead of the problem. In addition to the steps above, investing in employee wellness programs is a smart idea. These programs could help your workers lower their stress and find ways to cope with challenges so they're more content and less strung out on a whole.