Recognizing Burnout

How to Know When Someone is Burning Out

See the Clues to Stop the Burn

The factors that trigger burnout, the root issues, can appear less important than you think. People cloak their frustration and fatigue for many reasons, leaving a manager or coworkers surprised when they snap or put in their resignation. We will round up some of the top-ranking jobs likely to experience burnout, then dive into the underestimated symptoms and how they arise, and finally offer some strategies for promoting well-being in the workplace.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion that can occur due to prolonged stress or overwork. Stress is the body’s response to stressful situations or events, whereas burnout happens when stress is not managed and continues long-term. Some other health concerns that may arise with burnout include anxiety, depression, emotional eating, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance misuse.

Top Professions Struck by Burnout

People working in the following jobs are more likely to experience burnout:

  • Construction
  • Education
  • Healthcare and medical
  • Hospitality, including food services and hotels.
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail and wholesale
  • Transportation and warehousing.

Some Signs to Watch Out For

The people who burn out are often those who once were highly passionate about their work. They had drive and commitment, but changes crept in.


Feeling constantly tired, even after rest, is a common symptom of burnout. Simple tasks may take longer, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these feelings for many people.

Decreased Motivation

Burnout often leads to reduced motivation and performance. It may be challenging to stay engaged in your work or other activities.

Negative Attitudes 

Burnout can cause negative feelings toward yourself and others. Cynicism, irritability, and frustration may become more frequent.

Work-Life Imbalance

Struggling to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life is a sign of burnout. The rise in remote work and technology has made it harder for people to set boundaries and manage their time effectively.

Forgetfulness and Difficulty Concentrating

Burnout affects cognitive function, leading to forgetfulness and difficulty focusing on tasks.

Physical Symptoms

Unexplained muscle tension, pain, fatigue, and insomnia can all be related to burnout.

What’s at the Root of Burnout?

The reasons behind burnout include psychological, psycho-social, and organizational work factors. Many of these reasons relate to a person’s overall job satisfaction. For example:

High Workload 

Many jobs involve demanding workloads, tight schedules, and long hours. Constantly feeling overloaded without adequate rest can lead to burnout.

Lack of Control

Feeling powerless or lacking autonomy can contribute to burnout. When individuals have limited control over their work environment, decision-making, resources, and support, it can lead to frustration and exhaustion.

Reward Mismatch

Burnout occurs when the rewards (both intrinsic and extrinsic) do not align with the effort and time invested. If the effort put into a job doesn’t match the recognition, compensation, or satisfaction received, burnout can result.

Community and Relationships

Supportive relationships play a crucial role in preventing burnout. Jobs with strained relationships, lack of trust, conflict, or poor teamwork can exacerbate feelings of exhaustion.

Perceived Fairness

Feeling unfairly treated or experiencing inequitable treatment can contribute to burnout—fairness in workload distribution, promotions, and recognition matters.

Values Alignment

When personal values clash with organizational values or leadership decisions, it can lead to emotional exhaustion.

Workplace Strategies that Can Help

Here are some ways that employers can create an environment that supports well-being.

Prioritize Consistent Employee Communication

  • Regularly communicate with employees through surveys and one-on-one meetings to identify trends that might be causing frustrations in the workplace.
  • Proactively address concerns before they escalate.

Make Taking Time Off an Expectation

  • Consider implementing a four-day workweek or mental health rest days after a big push or projects that require extra time.
  • Encourage leaders to model well-being behaviors.
  • Encourage employees to take vacation time.
  • Offer extra days off for mental and physical health.

Establish Company-Wide Rules for Availability

Be sure to champion these rules from the C-suite:

  • Set clear expectations for online availability.
  • Reduce the pressure to be available 24/7.
  • Educate employees on managing communication overload.
  • Encourage respectful boundaries regarding after-hours messages.

Allow Employees to Have Flexible Hours

  • Flexibility promotes work-life balance.
  • Trust employees to manage their time effectively.

Offer Wellness Benefits that Accommodate Individual Needs.

  • Provide access to counseling, mental health programs, and wellness resources.
  • Support overall well-being through comprehensive benefits.

From Clues to Consciousness

Burnout is most often multifaceted and requires a personal approach. Finding solutions requires considering the workplace, the worker, and the fit between the two. With an eye for its symptoms and an ear for its causes, you can make adjustments to ease or prevent burnout from derailing you and your team.

About Equiliem

Equiliem ( believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive. 

Across the U.S., leading companies in healthcare, government, light industrial manufacturing, professional services, and energy rely on us for their workforce solutions. Our recruiting and HR services include contract and direct hire staffing, Payrolling/EOR, Independent Contractor Compliance, and Managed Services.

Since 1995, we’ve helped shape our industry. Today, we continue to research, ask questions, and continuously enhance the candidate journey and client experience.