How to Recognize, Cope and Avoid Burnout at the Workplace

According to the World Health Organization, the official definition of burnout is the state of chronic workplace stress that has not been adequately managed.

Fortunately, there are many ways not only to cope but to avoid workplace burnout,  and it begins with recognizing that there is a problem.

There are many negative repercussions of burnout in the workplace, and it behooves everyone to actively try to avoid it.

The Signs of Burnout

Several key indicators warn us when an employee might be heading towards burnout in their workplace:

  • Feeling constantly compelled to prove themselves
  • Working harder yet neglecting personal needs
  • Denying emerging and existing problems
  • Odd behavioral changes
  • Energy seems depleted, and they appear completely exhausted all the time
  • Problems with professional efficacy

Tests To Recognize Burnout

Since there is more awareness of this topic and its consequences, there are now reliable  tests available that help identifies whether a person is suffering from chronic burnout if they are potentially dealing with other issues:

How To Cope With Burnout

It’s important to remember that burnout is not necessarily a permanent state; there are easy-to-implement ways to cope with it. Once again, addressing that there is an issue is half the battle and the most important step. Once the person acknowledges that there is a problem, the road ahead brightens considerably.

Using a multi-faceted approach will most effectively treat and reverse chronic burnout:.

  • Set boundaries: Often, burnout comes with taking on more than a realistic or even expected share of the workload. It’s important to set boundaries to ensure that fatigue doesn’t take over.


  • Promote a Work-Life Balance: In order to have an employee that feels happy and satisfied in their work, and who will be able to sustain their productivity over the long haul, it is important to aim for balance within their career and personal life. If there is an evenness between the two portions of a person’s life, both sides will benefit.


  • Get Management Involved: Burnout risk can be made or broken at the organizational level. Sharing concerns with the manager or the leadership team can help. This might also result in a cultural shift if other people are feeling the same way.


  • Ask For Help: Burnout can be caused by a large workload, conflicting priorities, unexpressed needs, and unfulfilled values. Asking for help can create a larger support network than one might think.


  • Sustainability is Key: Don’t be a Hero! Often times very altruistic and driven people will take on more responsibilities than humanly possible to maintain, and while their desire is noble, the goal should always be for sustainability. If the employee is working too many hours and putting to much pressure on herself, eventually she will crash and burn, which is not great for anyone.


When burnout gets the best of some employees, they often consider resigning as their only option. This is such a shame because chances are they will revert to the same behaviors which will result in the same cycle in their next role. 

 In addition to setting clear and realistic expectations, take time to really look at your employees with open eyes to best determine how they are coping with normal work pressures. If you see signs of stress, address them early.

Make it part of your company culture to occasionally talk about outside interests. Promoting a Volunteer Day every month is a terrific way to spread the message that there are important things that can and should be done outside of their role as employees.  

By addressing burnout proactively, you can help not only the first one to openly suffer, but you may very well also help countless others to avoid the same struggles that so many professionals face.

Another great way to avoid burnout is to lower workload when appropriate.

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Kara Onorato is Director of ISC’s award-winning team of Executive Recruiters. You can reach Kara at 877-316-6249 or .

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants. You can reach Ann at 888-866-7276 or .