How Can You Identify Workplace Burnout in a Colleague?

How Can You Identify Workplace Burnout in a Colleague?

With workplaces across the globe still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, our working habits have changed. For many people, these changes have had a negative impact on their mental health. In fact, a staggering 52% of employees experienced feelings of burnout in 2020, with 67% of people believing these feelings have worsened during the pandemic. 

With people typically taking on a greater workload at home, and the distinction between home and work life becoming more blurred, it is unsurprising that burnout is becoming a more prominent issue. According to one guide on burnout, 46% of people believe that working from home can directly contribute towards workplace burnout. 

But how can you help a colleague who might be suffering? Without a fellow employee directly voicing their issues around burnout, the symptoms can be difficult to spot. But any negative change in a colleague’s usual behaviour could be caused, in some part at least, by burnout. Here are three signs a fellow employee might be suffering. 

Taking More Regular Sick Days 

Workplace burnout can not only affect our mental health, but also our physical health. When energy reserves are low and a person is sleep deprived, they’re more vulnerable to picking up viruses and bugs. This can lead to more sick days being taken by the individual, which could be a clear sign that they’re suffering from burnout. 

Even if a burnt out colleague isn’t physically sick and taking time off of work, you may notice they have started to complain more about ailments or aches. In this case, it can be helpful to consider ways you can help an employee with burnout. This could be by encouraging them to take some time off or even just checking in, which can go a long way to helping them feel more supported in the workplace.

Lack of Engagement

For an employee who is usually full of ideas in meetings and general conversation, a lack of contribution could be an obvious sign they are suffering from burnout. A burnt out colleague will likely be feeling a lower sense of self-worth and will start to doubt their abilities, which could lead to a lack of desire to contribute. 

It could also stem from general tiredness or being overwhelmed with their workload. Any number of reasons could account for a colleague engaging less in office activities, but they could all be indicators of a bigger issue. 

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

As a strategy to deal with burnout, an individual may take up new unhealthy habits, or alter existing ones. For example, where they would usually bring in pre-prepared meals for lunch, they could be more regularly switching to unhealthy options like fast food. 

Again, a change in eating habits could be explained by any number of factors in a person’s lifestyle. But if you are unaware of any other major changes in their life, this could be a sign that they need support at work. 

Perhaps they are also neglecting other aspects of their lifestyle which would usually offer an escape from work. For someone who is usually very sociable, if they start to turn down invitations to post-work activities, there is a chance that burnout could have something to do with their unusual behaviour. 

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