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Well Being

Employee Burnout: Causes, Symptoms and How to Prevent It

Nectar Team
Last Updated October 13, 2023

Workplace burnout has become an epidemic in today’s workplace. It’s estimated that over 50% of employees suffer from some form of burnout. This is especially true among millennials who are experiencing higher rates of stress and anxiety than previous generations.

Burnout isn’t only bad for your health; it also leads to lower productivity, increased absenteeism, and even job loss. So how can we create a positive work environment where employees don’t feel stressed out all day long? First, we'll help you understand what exactly burnout is. Then we'll look at the causes, symptoms and cures. 

The good news is that there are many ways to help reduce or eliminate burnout from your workforce.

The bad news? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each organization will have its own unique set of challenges but we will help you understand the best ways to prevent burnout from happening in your organization.

What causes employee burnout

What is Employee Burnout?

Employee burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion and physical fatigue at work. Burnout happens when employees feel overwhelmed by the amount of stress they're experiencing in their jobs. It affects workers' mental and physical health, among other things. Employees who experience burnout are often stressed and anxious about their jobs. They may feel like they're not accomplishing anything, or that they don't care about what they do. 

Causes of Workplace Burnout

What causes workplace burnout? Is it stress at work or something else? Workplace burnout is a common problem that affects employees across industries. There are a number of causes that we will explore including:

Feeling undervalued or unappreciated

One of the biggest causes of employee burnout is feeling undervalued for your contribution at work. Employees feel more engaged when they believe they are making a difference. They also feel more satisfied with their jobs when they feel appreciated by their bosses. When employees feel valued, they are more likely to stay longer and contribute more.

Being overworked

If your employees feel overworked, they may start looking for ways to escape. They might even look outside of work for help with their problems. This can cause them to take shortcuts when completing tasks, which can result in errors being made. When mistakes happen, it can also make people feel guilty about what happened. In turn, this can create more stress and frustration.

Lack of support from management

Employees need to feel supported by effective managers. They need to trust them and believe that they care about them as people. And they need to know that their manager has their back when they make mistakes. When employees don't feel valued, they tend to become disengaged. This results in low morale, increased turnover, and decreased productivity.

No career progression

People want to feel challenged to grow professionally. If employees don't see a clear path for growth within your company, they may leave. This is why it's important to make sure your career development plan is well-defined and communicated throughout the organization.

Unclear communication from managers

The lack of clarity about what your manager expects of you can cause stress and frustration. It also makes it difficult for employees to plan ahead and make decisions. This kind of uncertainty can lead to poor performance and also cause burnout. 

Signs and Symptoms of Workplace Burnout

Detecting if someone is burned out is even more difficult now that most of the workforce is remote. However, there are some signs that an employee may be experiencing burnout. These include:

Decreased motivation

Burned out employees aren't motivated to do anything. They may not show up to work on time or complete assignments on time. They may also skip meetings or avoid taking breaks. With remote and hybrid workers, it can be even more difficult to detect if someone has lost motivation because it's harder to read their body language when you only see them occasionally over zoom.

Reduced productivity

Employee burnout leads to poor performance because when employees feel burned out they don't perform at their best. Staff become less productive and creative. Employees who feel burned out are also more likely to leave their jobs because they become disengaged. Burnout can result from long hours at work, working for a company they don't like, or having too much responsibility.

Increased stress levels

Another symptom of workplace burnout is increased levels of stress, which in turn causes anxiety. It leads to increased levels of stress because of the lack of control over one’s work environment. When we do not have control over our work environment, we begin to worry about what might happen next. We also become anxious because we do not know how to handle situations that arise.

Difficulty concentrating

Employees who suffer from burnout often report feeling exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed. These feelings make it hard to concentrate or focus at work. When employees feel like this, it's hard to be productive, which results in mistakes being made.

Increased irritability

When an employee feels overwhelmed or stressed, they often get angry. Some employees will blame others for causing their poor performance. They also have a hard time taking ownership of their work. 

Poor decision making

Overwhelmed employees make poor decisions because they don't have time to think about what they are doing, they don't know how to solve a problem, or they lack confidence in themselves. They just react to whatever comes up next or they get caught in analysis paralysis which is a form of procrastination.

How to prevent burnout in the workplace

Prevent employee burnout

In an effort to combat this growing trend, I’ve compiled a list of strategies and tips to help prevent employee burnout from happening in the first place. 

Clear communication

Communication is an important part of leadership and if done effectively, it can play a major role in keeping employees motivated and energized. Clear communication helps us understand our goals, how we can achieve them, and how others feel about our decisions. But sometimes, we don’t communicate effectively. And this can cause problems. Here are some tips to help you improve your communication skills so you can keep your team motivated and productive.

STEP 1: Know What You Want to Communicate

It’s easy to assume that everyone knows what you want to tell them. But often, we need to explain things again and again until we’re sure we’ve communicated clearly. So before you start talking, think about what you want to say. This will help you avoid wasting time repeating yourself.

STEP 2:  Start With “Why”

When you’re trying to convince someone to do something, it’s tempting to jump straight to the action steps. But starting with why can help you build trust and motivation. For example, instead of saying “We need to move faster”, try saying “Because we’ll be more successful if we do.”

STEP 3: KISS (Keep It Simple & Short)

I'm sure you've heard of the acronym KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)? Well in this case we're swapping out "Stupid" for "Short". Keep your messages short and sweet. People tend to read shorter emails and texts. Plus, they’re more likely to respond to them. Distill your message down to the very basics so that they're easier to understand. 

Make sure that everyone knows how they fit into the team. Employees should understand what they need to do to succeed. Also, let them know what you expect of them.

Managers should communicate with their teams regularly. They should ask questions about their progress and provide feedback on any areas where improvement is needed.

It’s important to set clear expectations for your team members. For instance, if you expect your sales team to hit certain numbers by month end, then you need to communicate that clearly. Otherwise, you run the risk of burning out your entire team.

Appreciate & recognize often

Show appreciation for your team members' efforts. Make sure that they know that you value them. Be specific about what you appreciate about them. For example, "I really enjoy working with you because..."

Praise goes a long way. Studies have shown that praise motivates people to perform better and helps prevent burnout. So, give your employees positive reinforcement whenever possible.

Rewarding good behavior encourages others to follow suit. By rewarding workers for doing things right, you show them that you value their contributions. Recognizing effort and showing gratitude goes a long way towards preventing burnout. When employees know how much they contribute, they tend to put forth more effort and show greater enthusiasm.

STEP 1: Recognize efforts and show appreciation

There are several different ways to show appreciation. One of the easiest ways is to give praise verbally. Another is to write down specific examples of the employee's contributions. Another way to show appreciation is by giving gifts. This doesn't need to be expensive. A simple thank you card or gift certificate can go a long way.

STEP 2: Give praise regularly

Giving praise regularly creates a positive feedback loop. Employees appreciate being recognized and rewarded for their hard work.They also become more motivated to continue working hard.

STEP 3: Don't forget to thank employees

Even though it's easy to forget to thank employees, it's important to remember that they don't want to be thanked all the time. They want to feel appreciated and valued.

Reduce the workload

Workload reduction is an important part of managing employee burnout. It’s also a critical component of productivity and efficiency. But how much does it really matter? Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why we feel overwhelmed and stressed out at work, and then examine how workload reduction can help us cope with stress.

Stress is something all of us experience at some point in our lives. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, “stress is a normal response to life events, including illness, injury, loss, job change, relationship problems, financial difficulties, and physical or emotional challenges.” Stress can cause us to lose focus, become irritable, and even develop health issues.

But while stress is a natural part of life, too much of it can actually harm your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, “when stress becomes chronic, it can affect your immune system, increase blood pressure, and contribute to heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.”

So how can we reduce stress at work? Here are three things you can start doing today:

STEP 1: Take breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day can help relieve stress and keep you focused. Try taking five minutes every hour to walk away from your desk and stretch your legs. Or try taking a quick break by going outside for a few minutes. Even a few minutes of walking around the office can help clear your head and give you a fresh perspective.

STEP 2: Set realistic expectations

Don’t expect to complete everything on your plate during the day. Instead, set goals for yourself based on your current level of expertise and ability. Then, prioritize tasks so that you only tackle the most important ones first. This will allow you to avoid feeling overwhelmed and will help you stay productive.

STEP 3: Focus on the positive

While it’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of your job, it's important to remember that there are plenty of positives to working in the workplace. For instance, you might enjoy interacting with coworkers, learning new skills, and getting paid to do something you love. So instead of focusing on the negatives, think about the benefits of your job and how you can use them to improve your career. 

Make work purposeful

Providing a sense of purpose at work has been proven to reduce stress and increase productivity. It also helps employees feel connected to their employer and their colleagues.In this article I'll share some tips on how to create a sense of purpose at an organization.

STEP 1: Identify what makes your company unique

What sets your company apart from others? Is it your product or service? Or maybe your culture? Whatever it is, make sure it's something that customers love about your company. When you know what makes your company special, you can use it to motivate your team and keep them engaged.

STEP 2: Create a sense of purpose

Once you've identified what makes your company unique, you need to find a way to communicate it to your employees. This might mean holding a meeting where everyone shares their favorite things about working here. It might mean putting together a video highlighting your company's history. Or it might mean sending out a newsletter once a month that highlights all the cool stuff going on at your company. Whatever method you choose, make sure it's consistent and that it's done regularly.

STEP 3: Let employees know they matter

People don't want to work somewhere where they feel unimportant. So let your employees know that they matter. Tell them why they're important to your company. Let them know that they're part of a bigger picture. And most importantly, tell them that they're appreciated.

In today’s fast paced world, most companies struggle to retain talented workers. In fact, according to Gallup, only about half of all employees feel satisfied with their jobs. And while some people thrive in an environment where they feel challenged and rewarded, others find themselves struggling to stay motivated and engaged.


When we give our employees freedom over how they spend their time, we create an environment where they feel empowered to take ownership of their own success. This creates a culture of accountability and responsibility which leads to greater productivity and higher levels of engagement.

In order to achieve this level of empowerment, we need to remove barriers to growth. One barrier is the fear of failure. We all know that failing isn’t fun, but it’s also essential to learning. It’s important to understand that failure is part of life. Failure is a necessary part of learning.

We want to empower our employees by removing the fear of failure from their lives. To do this, we need to let go of control. Control is something that we hold onto tightly. It keeps us safe and secure. But when we try to control everything, we end up losing sight of the bigger picture.

When we give our employees autonomy over their work, they become responsible for their own success. They learn to trust themselves and their abilities. And when they see their work being successful, they gain confidence and self-esteem.

Giving our employees autonomy allows them to grow and develop. It gives them the opportunity to learn new things and expand their skill sets. By empowering them, we allow them to discover their strengths and weaknesses.

By letting go of control, we give our employees the ability to fail without feeling guilty. We teach them that mistakes are okay. We show them that they can bounce back from failures and move forward.

People begin to take ownership of their actions. They start to think about the impact their decisions have on others. They realize that they can affect change within the organization.

Our employees become leaders. They become role models for others. They inspire others to follow their lead.

Here are some tips on how to implement this strategy:

  • Give them the freedom to choose their own tasks.
  • Let them set their own deadlines.
  • Allow them to choose their own hours.
  • Encourage them to come up with creative solutions to problems.
  • Provide them with feedback on their performance.
  • Don't micromanage.
  • Keep communication open.
  • Have fun together.

Clear path to career growth

In today’s competitive job market, companies need to find ways to keep their employees engaged and motivated. One of the most effective ways to achieve this goal is by offering opportunities for advancement within the organization. However, some employees don’t see themselves moving up the ladder, even though they want to advance. This is especially true for millennials, who tend to view promotions as an opportunity to move away from their current role.

To encourage employees to stay put, companies must create a clear path to career progression. By providing employees with opportunities to grow professionally, companies can ensure that their workforce remains energized and productive. Here are three steps that employers can take to help their employees build a successful career:

STEP 1: Create a career development plan

A career development plan is a roadmap for employees to follow during their tenure at the company. It provides guidance about how employees can progress through different levels of responsibility and ultimately become managers. Companies can use this tool to identify which positions are currently vacant and where employees would fit best. They can also determine whether employees are interested in taking on new responsibilities. A career development plan can help employees understand the company’s culture and values, as well as its goals and objectives.

STEP 2: Provide training opportunities

Employees often feel undervalued if they believe they lack the necessary training to perform certain tasks. To combat this issue, companies can offer formal training programs. For instance, they can provide online courses or seminars that teach employees about specific topics. Employees can then apply what they learn in real life situations. In addition, they can receive mentorship from senior members of the team. Mentors can guide employees through challenging projects and offer advice when needed.

STEP 3: Offer promotions

Offering promotions can be one of the most effective ways for companies to motivate employees. These types of incentives not only reward hard work but also recognize the value of employees' contributions. When employees know that they have something to look forward to, they are more likely to remain loyal to the company.

A clear path to career development helps employees stay engaged because they know what they want to do next. They also feel like they have control over their future. This gives them confidence and motivation to work harder.

The best way to develop a career path is by creating professional training programs. These courses will help staff understand new skills and build their knowledge base. They’ll also give them the opportunity to network with people who are already working in their chosen field.

If you want to attract and retain talented workers, you must provide opportunities for growth. Staff members who feel challenged and excited about their careers are more motivated and engaged. They also tend to be more loyal to their employer.

Create a positive, fun work environment

Having fun at work keeps employees engaged because they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Employees who are engaged are more productive, happier, and less likely to leave their jobs. Fun at work means having a sense of humor, enjoying what they do, and feeling appreciated for their contributions. This helps them feel better about themselves, which leads to higher productivity. This will also help staff build relationships with other co-workers, which leads to better communication and teamwork.

Creating a positive work environment within your company is essential to preventing burnout. This doesn’t mean you need to create a “happy hour” every Friday, but it does mean making sure everyone feels appreciated and valued.

If you're like many teams, you've got remote workers which can make it more difficult to keep people feeling connected and engaged. Here are some fun ideas you can do online for virtual team building:

Have a “What’s Up” video call

Once a week, schedule a “What‘s Up” video call where everyone shares a quick update about themselves. This helps you stay connected and keeps your team members motivated. You could go around and share what the best and worst parts of your weeks were. 

Play a game online

A monthly game night is a great way to bring your team closer together. Try playing games online using a service like Weve to do virtual activities like trivia, lip-syncing, scavenger hunts and even pictionary. 

Send each other kudos, digitally

You can use a tool like Nectar to send each other shoutouts based on core values. This is a great way to align people with your purpose and recognize the great work that's happening daily within your team. 

Have a virtual lunch

We've all got to eat lunch right? Pay for everyone to Doordash food to wherever they're working and jump on zoom together to enjoy an hour of shooting the breeze over a delicious meal. 

Focus on wellbeing

An organization that takes wellbeing seriously creates a culture of wellness that starts from the top and trickles its way down. Employees encourage one another in living a healthy lifestyle. They support each other by encouraging them to pursue their ideal work-life balances, whether that means working reasonable amounts of hours, having flexibility in scheduling or taking vacations. And they collectively model making healthy decisions.

Workplace wellness programs are becoming increasingly popular among businesses. They’re designed to improve employees’ overall health and well-being by providing them with resources to manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. But while these programs are beneficial, they don’t necessarily address the root cause of why an employee might feel stressed or anxious. In fact, some studies suggest that focusing solely on reducing symptoms of mental illness without addressing underlying causes can actually make things worse.

So how can employers encourage healthy behaviors and reduce the risk of burnout? By encouraging employees to focus on their own personal wellbeing, which includes taking care of themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that employees who were encouraged to take part in a workplace wellness program reported lower levels of burnout and higher job satisfaction. This suggests that companies need to look beyond physical fitness and weight loss goals to create a culture where employees feel valued and appreciated.

Employers also need to consider the role that spirituality plays in preventing burnout. A study from the University of Michigan found that employees who regularly attended religious services had significantly fewer symptoms of burnout. So instead of forcing employees to attend church every Sunday, employers can encourage employees to find a spiritual practice that works for them. And finally, employers should encourage employees to engage in activities that promote self-care. For instance, a study from the University of California, Berkeley found that employees who participated in mindfulness meditation experienced less burnout than those who didn’t meditate. And another study from the University of Texas found that employees who exercised regularly felt more satisfied with their jobs. So when it comes to promoting workplace wellbeing, employers shouldn’t only be concerned about physical activity and diet. Instead, they should encourage employees to focus on their emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing too.

Flexible work

Workers who can choose when and where they work are more satisfied with their jobs. If you offer flexible schedules, employees can choose how many hours they work per week, as well as when and where they work. This gives them more freedom to take breaks, go home early, or even work from home. Flexible work allows team members to balance work and life, so they don’t have to sacrifice either. Employees who work flexible schedules tend to be happier and healthier. They also report higher levels of job satisfaction and lower rates of stress.

Offering flexible work helps prevent employee burnout because it gives workers control over their lives and helps them feel empowered to do their best work and live their best lives. It also reduces stress, improves morale, and increases productivity.


Burnout is a very common problem among employees. The reasons for employee burnout vary widely but the main ones include long hours, lack of control over their job, poor communication between management and staff, and being undervalued by their employer. Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand workplace burnout - its causes, symptoms and cures. 


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