Employee burnout is a growing problem for workers constantly pushing themselves to keep climbing the ladder.

It’s ironic that our modern devotion to working harder, for longer hours, getting an employee background check before employment and continuously pushing to get more out of our employees can often result in the exact opposite. Employee burnout is a growing problem, particularly in the middle management and lower executive levels of a high performance culture, where workers are constantly pushing themselves to keep climbing the ladder.

Employee burnout is bad for individuals, it’s bad for teams, and it’s bad for companies. Here’s what you need to know to help prevent it in your company.

What Is Employee Burnout?

Employee burnout is a type of work related stress that goes beyond what would be considered “normal” to the point where employees are mentally and physically exhausted, may become physically ill, and are completely disengaged and disinterested.

Prolonged and ongoing stresses are typically ignored until they become overwhelming.

What Causes Employee Burnout?

There are many causes of employee burnout, and the truth is, most cases don’t have a single cause, but rather, they’re the accumulation of months or years of problems that are not dealt with at the time. Those problems might include”

  • Workplace bullying or toxic teams. Workers spend a third of their lives with their colleagues, and when there are bad apples in the proverbial bushel, they do tend to infect their peers.
  • Sometimes, burnout is simply a matter of putting in too many hours, for too long, or taking on too many roles. This is one of the reasons why it’s often the best employees that suffer burnout. They try to do it all, and it simply gets too much.
  • Physical working conditions. Excessive heat, cold, noise or other factors can result in stress, and if stress goes on for too long, it can lead to burnout.
  • Boredom or lack of mental stimulation can also lead to burnout. If financially literate, potential star employees are forced to do boring, menial, or meaningless tasks for a long time, they will eventually “check out.”

Who Gets Burned Out

The interesting thing about burn out is that while it can happen to anyone, it typically happens to good employees more often. That’s because good employees start out more invested, want to achieve great results, and are likely to push themselves too hard for too long to get the job done. A comprehensive employee background check will be able to alert you to the possibility that you have one of these workers, so you can take steps to protect them.

Preventing Burnout

Preventing employee burnout starts with your hiring processes. Since so much of it is related to office politics and professional relationships in the workplace, careful employee screening to ensure you’re hiring or promoting the right people is crucial to prevent this problem.

Limiting overtime by your star performers, and ensuring that employees take breaks and vacations is another important part of the process. As tempting as it is to give your star performers more and more to do, don’t. Keep them focused, and keep them from over extending themselves.

Listen to problems and grievances, and be approachable. Most employee burnout happens gradually over years, so there is always time to solve problems before they affect your employees and your business.

Finally, pay close attention to the relationships on your team. If there’s one person that seems to be causing trouble, consider changing their role or taking disciplinary action. A toxic work environment will almost certainly result in someone important burning out at some point.


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