Burnout at Work: 3 Sneaky Signs and What to Do About Them

Beat burnout with strategies for individuals and leaders. Focus on open communication, wellness programs, and recognition.

March 4, 2024
Nitesh Padghan

Burnout is a growing epidemic in the modern workplace. Characterized by chronic exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of inadequacy, it can be insidious, creeping up on even the most dedicated employees.  While extreme burnout cases are easy to spot,  subtler signs can get lost in the shuffle of daily work demands. Recognizing these early warning signs is crucial for both employees and leaders to prevent full-fledged burnout and its harmful consequences.

1. The Energy Drain: Beyond Simple Tiredness

Everyone experiences tiredness at the end of a long work week.  Burnout exhaustion, however, is a different beast. Here's the distinction:

  • Persistent Fatigue: You feel drained even after a good night's sleep and find it difficult to muster the energy for everyday tasks.
  • Emotional Exhaustion: You feel emotionally depleted, making it challenging to manage work interactions with patience and empathy.
  • Physical Manifestations: Body aches, headaches, changes in appetite, or increased susceptibility to illness can be tied to burnout-induced stress.

What to Do:

  • Prioritize Rest: Quality sleep and restorative activities are essential. Aim for consistent sleep hygiene and dedicate time to hobbies or relaxation techniques.
  • Set Boundaries: Learn to say "no" to additional tasks when your plate is full. Create clear distinctions between work and personal life, including logging off when your shift ends.
  • Seek Support: Talk to a trusted colleague, friend, mental health professional, or your HR department for resources and strategies to combat exhaustion.

2.  The Fog of Mental Disengagement

Burnout isn't just about feeling overwhelmed; it's about a loss of connection to your work. Watch out for these red flags:

  • Loss of Focus: Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and increased procrastination hint at a mind struggling to keep up.
  • Apathy and Cynicism: What once sparked interest feels mundane, and a negative or sarcastic attitude becomes your default.
  • Lack of Motivation: Initiating tasks feels like a monumental challenge and you have little drive to excel.

What to Do:

  • Break Down Tasks: Large projects can feel overwhelming. Break them into smaller, manageable steps to create a sense of control.
  • Rediscover Purpose: Remind yourself why your work matters. Connect your tasks to the bigger picture and how they contribute to the company's goals.
  • Celebrate Small Wins: Recognizing even minor accomplishments helps combat feelings of inadequacy and reignites motivation.

3. The Undercurrent of Irritability and Isolation

Burnout doesn't just affect your internal state – it seeps into your interactions with others. Pay attention to these behavioral shifts:

  • Decreased Patience: You find yourself easily frustrated with colleagues, clients, or seemingly minor inconveniences.
  • Withdrawal and Isolation: You actively avoid social interactions at work or feel disconnected from your team.
  • Heightened Sensitivity to Criticism: Even small constructive feedback can feel harsh and trigger a defensive response.

What to Do:

  • Practice Self-Compassion: Recognize you're going through a tough time. Avoid self-blame and practice positive self-talk.
  • Mindful Communication: If you find yourself snapping, take a pause. Breathe deeply and choose your words carefully to avoid hurtful outbursts.
  • Reconnect with Colleagues: Reach out to a trusted coworker for a casual chat or schedule a team lunch to nurture social bonds.

The Leader's Role in Preventing Burnout

While individuals have a responsibility to manage their own well-being, leaders have a profound influence on creating a work environment that either fuels burnout or fosters resilience.  Beyond simply addressing existing burnout cases, proactive leaders prioritize prevention through these key actions:

Open Communication

Destigmatize conversations about stress, burnout, and mental health. Leaders should be approachable and encourage employees to share their struggles without fear of judgment.  Regular check-ins, surveys, and open forums create channels for employees to voice concerns before they reach a breaking point.

Manageable Workloads and Realistic Expectations

Continuously evaluate team workloads and advocate for realistic deadlines. Encourage employees to speak up if they feel overwhelmed, redistributing tasks or securing additional support when needed.

Flexibility and Autonomy

Where feasible, providing flexibility in work schedules and decision-making empowers employees with a sense of control, which can counteract feelings of helplessness that contribute to burnout.

Recognition and Rewards

A simple "thank you" goes a long way.  Regular recognition of achievements, both individually and as a team, cultivates a sense of appreciation and value.  Consider small rewards, bonuses, or additional time off as incentives and a way to celebrate milestones.

Employee Wellness Programs

Proactive wellness programs are a powerful tool in combating burnout. These programs can include webinars on stress management, mindfulness workshops, company-wide fitness challenges, access to mental health resources, and activities that build team cohesion.  By prioritizing holistic well-being, leaders show they care about employees beyond just job performance.

Investing in a culture of well-being isn't just the right thing to do; it's smart business.  Organizations that prioritize employee well-being see reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, higher job satisfaction, and improved ability to attract and retain top talent.

Burnout Doesn't Have to Be the Norm

By recognizing burnout's sneaky signs and actively addressing them, both individuals and organizations can create more sustainable and fulfilling work environments.  If you're struggling with burnout, remember you're not alone.  Reach out for support, set boundaries, prioritize self-care, and don't hesitate to make changes for a healthier and happier work life.

Corporate Wellness

Establishing Employee Trust - 5 Ways to Improve Reliability at Work

October 12, 2022
The Wellness Tribe

With the fear of an impending recession, hiring freezes, and mass layoffs, many team leaders are experiencing great stress and uncertainty at work right now. Employees want to know whether their job is secure, what they should be doing, and what the future holds.

In times like this, it may be incredibly difficult for managers to build trust in their teams. What information should one provide, and how much of it should one share? How can you be open about the company's problems without discouraging your employees? How can you establish trust in your team and improve reliability at work.

Here are some 5 simple tips for assisting your team through times of uncertainty:

Be Open and Honest

Establishing Employee Trust - 5 Ways to Improve Reliability at Work
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

While you must be careful with the information you offer, it is critical that you be as explicit and honest as possible. Be candid about the reality that no one, including you, can completely predict what lies ahead, but that you do know the company is doing all it can to provide a solid foundation for the future. 

Make it apparent that the corporation wants you to share what you know by using phrases like "I shouldn't be telling you this" or "don't discuss this with anybody, but..." In order to avoid instilling secrecy and suspicion, make an explicit effort to emphasize that the information you are delivering is coming straight from leadership.

Assume Responsibility

When an unfortunate event occurs, be sure to accept responsibility as their leader.

As a leader, you must accept responsibility for the welfare of your team, even if it is not your fault directly. As you take responsibility for your good and bad actions, your team will start to trust you.

"Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge." - Simon Sinek

Be Confident and Enthusiastic

Establishing Employee Trust - 5 Ways to Improve Reliability at Work
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Your actions and attitude as a manager may significantly impact your staff. Therefore, it is essential to demonstrate confidence in your leadership skills. While things are unpredictable and no one knows everything, you should emphasize what you do know and how you can best position the team to go ahead efficiently. 

Keep a positive attitude and acknowledge your team's efforts at all times. Language such as "we've got this" and "I'm so pleased with all the effort our team has made is an excellent method to foster togetherness and optimism.

Provide Emotional Support

During times of uncertainty, stress and burnout are understandable. Take the time to check in with your team members regularly. Begin your weekly meetings by asking how your staff are doing and if there is anything you can do to help. 

Pay close attention to what they are saying and asking so you can follow up later. As a manager, it is critical to consider your employees' viewpoints and to evaluate what you would like to hear if you were in their shoes. If you feel your team members are not comfortable sharing their problems invest in some corporate wellness program so they can take help from 

Invest in Your Employees.

Workplaces that foster high levels of trust promote holistic development and employee wellbeing. Talent is developed within the organization through a development attitude, which stresses both professional and personal growth opportunities for managers and direct reports. 

Organizations that invest in their employees are more likely to retain talent and improve engagement. This includes employee wellness initiatives, financial well-being programs, and fun wellness activities. 

Closing Thoughts

Teams flourish when members trust each other to deliver and match their contributions with quality and excitement. When there is trust at work, everyone always relies on one another to provide consistent efforts and solid outcomes.

Occupational Wellbeing

Navigate Virtual Burnout: Wellness Centered Guide to Thriving

January 10, 2023
The Wellness Tribe Team

Virtual meetings have become a staple in our new normal of remote work, but they can also be a source of frustration and burnout. From background distractions to feelings of isolation, the virtual meeting struggle is all too real. In this article, we will dive into the common struggles of virtual meetings and provide practical tips for managing them. 

From setting boundaries to finding ways to stay engaged, we will give you the tools you need to make virtual meetings less of a struggle and more productive. So join us as we explore the virtual meeting struggle and discover ways to stay sane in this new world of remote work.

The Zoom-ed Out Zone

Navigate Virtual Burnout: Wellness Centered Guide to Thriving
Photo by Iyus sugiharto on Unsplash

As we stare into our screens for hours on end, it's easy to fall into a state of mental fatigue. The monotony of staring at the same faces, the lack of engagement, and constant interruptions can leave us feeling stressed and burnt out. Virtual meeting fatigue is real, and staying focused and engaged can be hard during long virtual meetings. 

It's not uncommon to find yourself daydreaming, checking your phone, or multitasking during virtual meetings. This constant state of distraction can lead to decreased productivity and increased stress levels. But don't worry; there are ways to combat the Zoom-ed Out Zone and make virtual meetings more manageable.

A Virtual Escape

"Virtual meetings are like a game of telephone, by the time the message reaches the end, it's usually distorted." - Unknown

Virtual meetings can be a real challenge, but there are practical ways to manage the difficulties they bring. To make the most of your virtual meetings, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Setting boundaries: It's important to set boundaries with your colleagues and family members to make sure you have a dedicated workspace and time for virtual meetings.
  • Creating a dedicated workspace: Set up a dedicated workspace with a comfortable chair and good lighting. This will help you stay focused and engaged during virtual meetings.
  • Finding ways to stay engaged: Try to find ways to stay engaged during virtual meetings, such as by participating in discussions, asking questions, or taking notes.
  • Self-care strategies: Make time for self-care and maintain a positive mindset during virtual meetings. This can include taking breaks, stretching, or practicing deep breathing exercises.
  • Prioritize your schedule: Make sure you're not overloading yourself with too many virtual meetings in one day, and try to schedule breaks in between the meetings.

Implementing these practical tips and strategies can make virtual meetings more manageable and less of a struggle. Remember to take care of yourself and maintain a positive mindset during virtual meetings, and you'll be able to stay sane and productive.

The Virtual Meeting Revolution

Navigate Virtual Burnout: Wellness Centered Guide to Thriving
Photo by Headway on Unsplash 

Implementing practical tips and strategies for virtual meetings can revolutionize the way we experience them. By setting boundaries, creating a dedicated workspace, and finding ways to stay engaged, we can make virtual meetings less of a struggle and more enjoyable. Self-care strategies such as taking breaks and maintaining a positive mindset can also greatly improve the virtual meeting experience.

But the revolution doesn't stop there; we can make virtual meetings more interactive and productive by using the latest technologies and tools. By using virtual reality, breakout rooms, and interactive polls, we can make virtual meetings more engaging and create a sense of togetherness.


We hope this article has been a beacon of hope in the stormy seas of virtual meetings. We urge you to share your own tips and strategies for staying sane during virtual meetings with us, and let's make virtual meetings a thing of the past. It's time to take control of our virtual experiences and make virtual meetings work for us, not against us. Let's revolutionize the virtual meeting experience and make it more enjoyable and productive for all.

Join the Wellness Tribe

Join The Tribe

This month we are focusing on food and how it affects your mental health. Join us as we bring in the most relevant interesting content from across the wellness segment.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.