Home Mental Health & Well-Being How UK Employers Can Recognise the Signs and Symptoms of Burnout?

How UK Employers Can Recognise the Signs and Symptoms of Burnout?

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Research shows that employee burnout has steadily risen by 17% since 2020. People no longer want the archaic working model, actively looking for roles where workplace well-being is prioritised, and more flexibility exists because they’re putting their mental health first.

Research from Deloitte has revealed the cost of poor mental health to UK employers has increased to a staggering £56 billion. A significant part of the business cost is due to reduced productivity caused by employees who are unwell but still come to work, known as presenteeism.

Burnout goes way beyond a buzzword. It is impacting businesses on an unprecedented level. Especially financially, absence due to poor mental health costs employers twice as much as that relating to physical health.

A recent report from Westfield Health found that 59% of respondents said their mental health drove them to find a new role. Striking a balance between a healthy, happy workplace and a lifestyle for employees has never been more important for businesses.

What is burnout and how can you recognise the signs and symptoms?

People who find work and the workplace difficult to manage may be at a higher risk of burnout. Burnout can leave them feeling empty, worn out and unable to handle the weight of life’s obligations. While burnout is not deemed a psychological disorder, it should still be taken seriously.

Three ways to recognise employees’ burnout

Cynical disposition

No one loves their job 100% of the time, and some cynicism is natural. However, suppose someone is displaying an increased negative outlook regarding the work and their colleagues.

This could signify burnout, especially if their normal disposition is usually upbeat. It could be that they’re displaying more irritability than usual or are unable to accept feedback.

Performance and productivity

Employees suffering from burnout may have been less engaged with their work than normal. They may feel as though they can’t get anything right and show signs of frustration. Many people feel unable to manage their frustration and stress levels at work, leading to decreased productivity and, in turn, poorer quality of work.


When an employee is experiencing burnout, it can be very difficult for them to feel like they are part of a team, especially if their workload is unmanageable.

Isolation may set in, and they may feel they cannot participate in company activities because that will impact their work, leaving them experiencing more stress and anxiety. The longer this is the case, the more detached from the business they will feel.

Knowing which work-related pressures trigger burnout and what to avoid as a manager can be most helpful.

Some of the key causes of burnout

  • Lack of support from their manager and team.
  • Uncertain or excessive expectations.
  • A toxic environment.
  • Feeling unvalued.
  • Pressure to be online/available constantly.
  • Being micromanaged.

What can you do to help?

The first thing you should do is be aware and acknowledge that your employee is struggling. Start the conversation, they may feel too stressed or anxious to ask for help, so it’s up to you to look out for the signs and offer help and support.

Be empathetic, as feeling understood at work is crucial in their recovery. Don’t vilify them for being unable to cope; instead, listen to what they need and recognise the areas where you can help immediately alleviate some of the pressure.

Some of the practical ways to offer support

  • Check-in with them, but not in a ‘monitoring’ sense, as that will only add to their stress. Drop them a line to see how they are and if they can manage their workload daily.
  • If your company has mental health support services, ensure they know how to access them and are available to help.
  • Encourage them to take some time off to relax and reset. Be flexible with their working hours to allow for their current needs.
  • Delegate their workload across the team to take some of the pressure off. Avoid overwhelming them with projects you know will be highly stressful.
  • Be human. Yes, it’s work but remembers, we can all experience burnout at any level. They need to feel like a person, not a number.

Preventing burnout

Naturally, avoiding the causes and circumstances that could lead to burnout is the greatest way to safeguard employees’ mental health. Although doing so might necessitate a total change in your business’ culture, fostering a nurturing and supportive workplace for your team is vital.

Investing in your people is paramount to your company’s success and profitability. Research shows that every £1 you invest in employees’ well-being sees a £5.30 return.

A team who feels valued and supported with a work-life and well-being balance is a happier team and, in return, will be far less likely to leave. So, if you’ve noticed burnout among your colleagues, maybe it’s time for a culture shift.

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