You can’t expect to work your employees to death and continue enjoying a most productive staff. Everyone has a breaking point. It’s only a matter of time before overworked employees reach their limits. Once that happens, they become completely burnt out and are unable to reach their full potential.
In some instances, employees might be kind enough to tell you they’re burnt out in an all-caps email or a disgruntled conversation. In other instances, they’ll keep mum — leaving you to figure it out for yourself. Here are five telltale signs that may indicate your employees have had enough:
If you notice that one of your employees who had previously been super enthusiastic is always telling you they’re exhausted, it could indicate that they’re burnt out.
While they might leave the office at 5 p.m., overworked employees take work home with them on a regular basis. Because you can’t expect people to work all day and have no leisure time whatsoever, overworked employees likely don’t get enough sleep.
2. Sudden disengagement
One of your employees is the first to volunteer to tackle an extra project or pinch hit for a coworker. This person is always very talkative during team meetings and has a ton of ideas to share. All of a sudden, everything changes. The worker stops volunteering to help and is silent during meetings.
If you find yourself in such a situation, intervene immediately. The worker may be burnt out.
3. A sustained dip in productivity
Let’s say one of your employees has consistently over-delivered since they came on board. If that person suddenly stops producing at a comparable clip, they may very well be overworked and therefore unmotivated.
But don’t forget that everyone has their off weeks. Have a conversation to find out if anything is wrong.
4. Increased absenteeism
If one of your employees has a track record of near-perfect attendance and all of a sudden starts taking lots of time off from work, it could be an indication that they are burnt out.
But don’t jump to conclusions right away. You never know if your employee is battling an illness or dealing with other serious problems. If you notice increased absenteeism, have a conversation to see whether everything’s OK.
5. Constant complaints and cynicism
Do you notice that one of your employees has something negative to say about every new initiative you launch? That might signal a burnt out worker.
It’s perfectly understandable to not be on board with every campaign the company launches. But constantly complaining about everything is not productive. If you notice a worker’s personality has shifted, take action quickly before they bring other people down with them.
The good news is that you have the power to prevent your employees from burning out in the first place. Just don’t pile an unreasonable amount of work on their plates, and you should be OK.
But if your workers have reached their breaking points, you’re not completely out of luck either. Lighten their workloads. They’ll appreciate it. And if the damage that’s been done isn’t too severe, they might even rebound to former levels of productivity.